28 Oct

Undocumented immigrants are driving in Oregon. Do we notice?

The strongest advocates of giving undocumented Oregonians legal driver’s cards aren’t even immigrants.

They’re Oregon’s agriculture and nursery businesses, who depend on their undocumented workers to stay in business. It’s another piece of evidence that Oregon’s 150,000 undocumented residents, about two-thirds of them employed in our economy, are deep in the fabric of Oregon life, and aren’t going anywhere.

And that we should try to manage their presence.

Nobody really thinks that those people are leaving, that they’re going to self-deport. And nobody really thinks they’re going to stop driving – and their employers don’t want them to stop.

So instead of pretending that the undocumented drivers don’t exist, and aren’t on our roads, we could give them driving tests, and keep track of them, and encourage them to get insurance.

The people behind this measure include the Oregon nurserymen, the Oregon winegrowers and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. As Jeff Stone, executive director of the nurserymen, said last week, “We’re just trying to make Oregon a safer place.”

If we defeat Measure 88, and keep Oregon from issuing driver’s cards, nothing is really going to change for the people involved, even if we want to pretend it will.

But nothing will change for the rest of us, either.

NOTE: This commentary first appeared on KGW-TV, 10/25/14

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