Driver Cards a Good Start, Committee Says

HAC 5-19-14
Hermiston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Pedro updates the Hispanic Advisory Committee on upcoming meetings of the Latino Business Network at Monday night's HAC meeting. The committee also took up the issue of November's driver card ballot measure.

The Oregon driver card ballot measure was among the topics addressed Monday night at the Hispanic Advisory Committee (HAC) meeting at Hermiston City Hall.

If passed by voters in November, the measure would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain four-year driver cards. The only requirements would be that a person would have to provide proof of identity and of at least one year of Oregon residency, pass a driver’s test, and – like all drivers – carry proof of insurance.

Both supporters and opponents of the bill call it a safety issue. Supporters say providing driver cards to undocumented immigrants would make the state’s roads and highways safer because holders would have proven their driving skills by passing the driving test, and would have to have auto insurance. Opponents, such as a majority of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, say there is no way to make sure driver card holders will actually get the required insurance.

At Monday night’s HAC meeting, even supporters of the ballot measure weren’t 100 percent happy with it, but for entirely different reasons. David Cortinas, publisher of the Hispanic newspaper La Voz, said the measure should go beyond temporary driver cards and, instead, provide undocumented immigrants with driver’s licenses like legal residents of the state.

“Undocumented immigrants are not second-class citizens,” he said. “They are Oregon residents and they deserve a driver’s license just like any resident.”

HAC Chairman Eddie de la Cruz said he agreed with Cortinas, but said it was too late to change the ballot measure now and that something is better than nothing.

Committee member George Anderson agreed with de la Cruz.

“A wise man once said that politics is the art of the possible,” Anderson said. “We’re doing the possible.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Anderson informed the committee that the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office is no longer honoring federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold requests. The sheriff’s office is latest to do so following a federal court ruling in April that held that Clackamas County violated the 4th Amendment when it held a woman in custody for 15 days based solely on an ICE request. ICE detainments are often done in order for immigration officials to determine the legal status of foreign-born people who are held on charges unrelated to their legal status.

The committee was also visited by Hermiston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Pedro and Chamber Board Chairman Phil Hamm.

Pedro updated the committee on upcoming Latino Business Network meetings. The LBN meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Hermiston Conference Center. Speakers provide educational and professional development information. Hamm said the chamber, as an organization, wants to help and support everyone in the community.

“We want to bring the Hispanic and Anglo populations together because that’s what makes Hermiston great,” he said. “We want to serve the whole community.”

Anderson said he appreciated the chamber’s outreach.

“Thank you very much, because it needs to be a ‘we’ community,” said Anderson.

The HAC meets on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Hermiston City Hall.

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