Editorial: Oregon makes smart choices on immigrant licenses


Oregon has decided to grant driver’s licenses and identification cards to immigrants approved for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

It’s a smart move that recognizes the immigrants’ legal status but also wisely sets the licenses to expire at the end of the deferral period.

About 1,200 have been accepted into the president’s program in Oregon, according to a report in The Oregonian, and at least several hundred more are eligible. To get licenses or state ID cards, the immigrants must also satisfy all the usual requirements, including providing proof of identity, age and address, as well as passing tests and paying fees.

It’s good news for those who will get the licenses but also for the rest of us, who benefit from the young adults driving legally, with insurance and having passed a test.

Oregon officials took nearly four months to decide how to handle the situation, conferring with the state Department of Justice. In the meantime, some licenses and permits were issued in error, and many had to wait.

In the end, the officials decided to accept the deferred action work permits as proof of lawful presence in the United States, which has been required in Oregon since 2008, according to the (Salem) Statesman Journal. Oregon was among the last states to decide to issue the licenses, while a few, including Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina, have decided against doing so, the Journal said.

The deferred action program allows certain young illegal immigrants to get a two-year work permit, which may be renewable but does not grant amnesty or provide a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, since his re-election, the president has declared his intent to work toward comprehensive immigration reform during his second term. If he’s successful, perhaps these licenses will be renewable on a more permanent basis.