Oregon DREAMers Get Licenses

PHOTO: A person fills out paperwork for Oregon license plate stickers.Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr
A person fills out paperwork for Oregon license plate stickers.

Oregon DREAMers will be eligible for driver's licenses, the state's Driver and Motor Vehicles Division announced Wednesday.

Deferred action recipients will be able to apply for licenses, instruction permits and identification cards. The licenses will come with an expiration date that matches the expiration date on the person's employment authorization document, Form I-766. Part of the deferred action application process involves filing for a work permit.

"Applicants must meet all Oregon requirements for driving privileges and ID cards, including proof of identity, age, residence address, passage of tests, and payment of fees. DMV electronically verifies Social Security numbers and federal immigration documents," read a statement released by the DMV.

Deferred action grants some undocumented young people two-year, renewable reprieves from deportation. Those granted deferred action can also apply for work permits.

The Obama administration made clear that each state would be left to make the decision on whether to award driver's licenses. Some states, such as Iowa and Arizona, said that since the deferred action program does not grant people legal status, recipients are not eligible for licenses. Others, including California, Nevada, Florida and Connecticut, have said they will issue the licenses because the program grants people a work permit, and that is enough in those states to prove legal presence.

Oregon law requires "that a person provide proof of legal presence in the United States before DMV may issue a driver license, driver permit or ID card," the statement continued. "A person provides proof of legal presence" by submitting valid documentation under state law.

Immigrant-rights groups have filed legal challenges in several states where DREAMers have been denied licenses. They argue that it can be nearly impossible, particularly in non-urban areas, to get to work or school without the ability to drive.

Oregon deferred action recipients may begin applying on Wednesday for the licenses. The DMV statement cautions that all DMV offices will be closed for four furlough days between Friday, January 18, and Monday, January 21.