Oregon’s Immigration Patriots Win A Round Against Their State’s “Depraved Political Class”

In late April, 2013, Oregon’s legislature passed senate bill SB833 [PDF], which allows illegal aliens to obtain “driver cards.”  On May Day—no coincidence, according to Jim Ludwick of Oregonians for Immigration Reform [OFIR]—Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, signed SB 833 into law. 

Driver cards supposedly have the sole purpose of bestowing driving privileges upon those who can pass the usual driving tests but who lack legal presence in the U.S. But it’s all part of the Treason Lobby’s relentless campaign to dismantle US sovereignty—one of the primary documents acceptable as ID for getting an Oregon driver card is the notorious Mexican matricula consular card.

Of course, it’s got some way to go. The Oregon DMV’s FAQs list about SB 833 helpfully points out that “It will be up to each [other] state to determine whether or not to recognize the Oregon Driver Card as valid driving privileges in their state.  Before traveling, you may wish to contact the state in question.” The FAQ list also pleads ignorance about the cards’ possible acceptance for identification by other entities, whether commercial or governmental, even including the TSA—or, as Michelle Malkin calls it, Thousands Standing Around).)

The Driver Cards were to become available on January 1, 2014.  But instantly upon SB 833’s enactment, OFIR’s dedicated activists began the process of qualifying a referendum for the November 4, 2014 general election so that Oregon’s voters would have a chance to nullify what their depraved political class—thank you, Mark Steyn, for that all-occasions description of America’s governing elites— had inflicted upon them. 

In an intense and expensive 90-day effort, the OFIR-ites collected enough valid signatures from registered voters to clear comfortably the 58,142-signature threshold needed to put the referendum on the ballot.  This nullified the January 1, 2014 effective date. A majority of “No” votes on the referendum this November will cancel the law completely.  But if a majority is bamboozled into voting “Yes,” the driving cards will become available after all, on December 4, 2014.

But the Oregon Treason Lobby struck back. By phone, Jim Ludwick told me how, even before really gearing up for its fall “Vote No on SB 833” campaign—OFIR had to fend off machinations by the state’s mendacious “public servants.”  He pointed me to editorials from major newspapers around the state, even some who favor the driver cards for illegal aliens, that share OFIR’s outrage over the legislature’s galling attempt to monkey-wrench the process. 

The Bend Bulletin succinctly described the situation and its implications:

It’s a remarkable scenario of legislative overreach.

• The Legislature passed a bill.

• Seeking to reverse that action, opponents successfully gathered signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

• The attorney general, as provided by law, wrote the ballot title.

• Now the Legislature wants to rewrite the ballot title to obscure its meaning…

The attorney general’s office wrote the ballot title, which says it “provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”

The Legislature, through House Bill 4054, now wants to replace that title, saying the measure “establishes limited purpose, duration driver card for individuals who prove Oregon residency, meet driving requirements.”

The new language includes no mention of legal residence, no way for a voter to know what the issue is really about.

Disputes about ballot language are common, because it can influence voter understanding and affect outcomes. Although a more complete discussion appears in the voter guide, some voters will see only the words that appear on the ballot. The words are powerful and deserve careful attention.

Even those who fully support giving driver cards to illegal residents should be outraged at this attempt to hide the issue and confuse voters.

[Editorial: Legislators try to obscure meaning of ballot measure on driver cards, March 2, 2014]

The editors of the Medford Mail-Tribune favor SB 833, but they minced no words, zeroing in on the Oregon’s House’s abuse of process:

Legislators who write a ballot title that deliberately leaves out the most controversial effect of a law are blatantly trying to game the system to their advantage.

[Meddling in the people’s business, March 2, 2014]

And the editors at the Salem Statesman-Journal, who also favor SB 833, philosophized:

All that the House achieved was giving voters another reason to dislike both the driver cards and the Legislature. The Senate should deep-six HB 4054A.

[Editorial: This week’s winners and losers, February 28, 2014]

On February 24, an editorial in Portland’s Oregonian, the state’s largest-circulation paper and an enthusiast for illegal aliens getting driver cards, was Lawmakers should leave driver-card ballot title alone.  The Eugene Register-Guard’s editorial on February 28 was headlined Don’t tinker with the title.  In the Central Oregonian, a weekly published in Portland, it was Leave the initiative and referendum process alone (March 4).

Ludwick stressed the singular nature of the massive opposition to HB 4054A from editorial boards around the state.  Never before had the legislature tried to dictate the title of a ballot issue, and the state’s editors were having none of it.  They saw the outrage on their own, too—OFIR didn’t reach out to educate them. Ludwick also emphasized to me that it was extraordinary to have such unity in a case with such a divisive (underlying) issue.

The House’s bill HB 4054A to confuse voters by changing the referendum’s title was approved 36 to 24 on Thursday, February 27, 2014, not much changed from the winning margin, 36 to 20 (two not voting), for SB 833 itself in the House on April 30, 2013. The similarities in their numbers—with a prominent signature-gathering campaign by outraged Oregonians in between—suggest that a large fraction of these state representatives have no compunction about shoving their ill-informed preferences down citizens’ throats. And Section 2 of HB 4054A has the effect that, in this particular case, the legislature’s misleading re-titling of OFIR’s referendum would be unchallengeable in the state’s Supreme Court.

Oregon’s Senate had originally approved SB 833 by 20 to 7 (three not voting) on April 23, 2013.  So, judging by the House’s adamant passage of HB 4054A, it seemed a good bet that the Senate would have whooped that through, too.

In the event, though, the Senate adjourned on March 7 without taking action on HB 4054A.  Did they see the light—or take enough heat?—or did they simply run out of time at the end of their session?

According to OFIR’s Jim Ludwick:

The Senate had time to pass the bill and apparently the Senate President Peter Courtney was trying to convince Republicans to vote for it as late as last Friday, the last day of the session.  [Meanwhile], we overwhelmed the Senate with phone calls, e-mails and personal contacts.  One can never be certain if all that was the reason the Senate didn`t take up the bill or if HB 4054A was so ugly that even supporters of giving driver licenses to illegal aliens couldn`t stomach it.  Nonetheless, we will take credit for stopping the bill.

So where do things stand with the November’s referendum on SB 833?  Before the legislature waded back in so clumsily, others among the referendum’s opponents (i.e. people who want driver cards available to illegal aliens) had taken their complaints about the title language written by the attorney general (“provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.”) to the state’s Supreme Court.  And it’s possible that these judicial eminences will reject the title’s language. 

 If so, says Ludwick, it will be up to the attorney general to modify the language.  In any event, he told me, the referendum will absolutely be on the ballot.  

Anyone concerned about The National Question—immigration and all its malign corollaries—should sign up with OFIR.  You’ll be helping to strengthen what’s very much a going concern. OFIR is prominent among civic organizations in Oregon that aim at influencing public policy.  Legislators, both friend and foe, say that the volume of constituent phone calls they get when OFIR sends out a statewide alert can be overwhelming.  

Jim Ludwick was OFIR’s founding president, back in 2000. He remains very active as the group’s spokesman, also frequently talking to college-student groups and making the drive from McMinnville to Salem to testify on bills and to lobby in the capitol’s corridors.  Cynthia Kendoll succeeded Ludwick as OFIR’s president several years ago, and she, too, is a dynamic leader.  For example, in 2012, she took part in the annual scoping-the-southwest-border tour led by the Center for Immigration Studies so she could bring back her eyewitness report to OFIR’s members.

Note that for their “Protect Oregon Driver Licenses” efforts, OFIR has a separate, dedicated website.

Paul Nachman [email him] is a retired physicist and immigration sanity activist in Bozeman, MT.