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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oregon is Denying Drivers' Licenses to Immigrant Kids

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Here's what Alejandra Nicholas, a Tigard 20-year-old, has to say about the Oregon DMV and Governor John KItzhaber:

"I'm pretty disappointed in the state. I have so many hopes and dreams. They are doing a pretty good job of crushing them."

Quoted in The Oregonian, Nicholas is caught up in a frustrating situation. Last spring, an executive order gave NIcholas and children of undocumented immigrants like her "deferred action" status—they can apply for legal work permits in the US and don't have to fear deportation under a new Obama plan.

But the Oregon DMV has been refusing to issue drivers' licenses to those kids who are now able to work and live legally in the country. Not having a driver's license is a big hurdle: People often need them for jobs and just as a form of ID.

Under a 2008 law change, Oregon requires proof that you're a citizen to get a driver's license. The kids in the deferred action program have a social security number, they have permission to be in the United States for a number of years, but, Governor John Kitzhaber's office and the DMV say it's not clear whether the kids are "citizens."

Hopefully, KItzhaber will prove himself to be as forward-thinking as Obama on this issue. Denying kids who have grown up in Oregon the document they need to apply for jobs here isn't doing any good for anybody.

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