New law allows undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses

(JULY 5, 2019) A new state law soon will allow undocumented immigrants to get an Oregon driver's license.

The state's House and Senate have approved the bill (a bill is a proposal for a new law). Governor Kate Brown supports the bill. She is expected to sign the bill to make it law.

Applicants will not need to prove U.S. citizenship to get a state license. However, they still must prove they live in Oregon. They must also pay a fee and pass the driver's test. These licenses cannot be used to go through airport security. Furthermore, drivers with these licenses will not be automatically registered to vote.

This issue already has a long history of conflict in Oregon. In 2007, former Governor Ted Kulongoski issued an executive order (a government rule) to stop the state from giving licenses to undocumented people. In 2013, state lawmakers approved a bill allowing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Then, in 2014, Oregon citizens voted to reject the idea. The new 2019 law, however, includes language that says it cannot be sent back to the voters.

Currently, 13 other states and the District of Columbia allow drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.

"The ability to drive legally is a core everyday need for many Oregon families," says Ricardo Lujan-Valerio. He is a policy associate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. "Oregonians shouldn't have to live in fear of being deported or worry about their families being torn apart simply because they are taking their kids to school, going to work, or taking care of their family or neighbors."

Pacific Standard magazine notes "nationwide, deportations resulting from traffic violations have increased 138 percent from 2016 to 2017 to a total of 2,364, according to Syracuse University non-profit data research center Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse."

Lehman, Chris. “Bill to Grant Undocumented Immigrants Legal Oregon Driver’s Licenses on Way to Governor.” Oregonlive.Com,, 29 June 2019, Accessed 5 July 2019.
Massoud Hayoun. “Oregon Will Make Undocumented People Eligible for Drivers’ Licenses Again.” Pacific Standard, 3 July 2019,
Ross. “Oregon Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Won’t Trigger Voter Registration.” Oregonlive.Com,, 2 July 2019, Accessed 5 July 2019.

"ESOL News Oregon by Timothy Krause is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. except where noted.