To the Editor:
This is in response to Kim Thatcher’s recent article in the Keizertimes (Keep good driver’s license standards, Nov. 9), her first communication with Keizer constituents as she begins another term as our representative. I find it disheartening to discover that Ms. Thatcher is choosing to focus her attention on limiting drivers’ licenses for undocumented individuals, rather than communicating her commitment to tackle some of the truly pressing concerns that plague our state. In addition, her article disseminates misinformation and blatantly provokes fear.
First, Representative Thatcher states “Why should we open the door for a drug dealer from a foreign country to get a driver’s license in Oregon?” Indeed. In our current system, only drug dealers from the United States are permitted to have driver’s licenses in Oregon. Surely Ms. Thatcher is not suggesting that denying a driver’s license is likely to curtail illegal drug trafficking.
Next, Ms. Thatcher suggests that issuing drivers’ licenses would open the doors to other services, such as a “bank account, welfare benefits, you name it.” As a legislator for the state of Oregon, I would expect Ms. Thatcher to be aware that applicants for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) are required to bring social security numbers or cards and proof of legal status or citizenship for everyone in the household who wants benefits. Similar conditions for documentation are required to open a bank account. A driver’s license is not considered proof of citizenship, and that would not change if undocumented individuals were allowed to apply for Oregon drivers’ licenses. I’m not sure what encompasses “you name it” so will not attempt to respond.
Finally, my personal stance on whether or not to grant drivers’ licenses to undocumented individuals is irrelevant. The question to ask is whether Ms. Thatcher is adequately representing you, her constituent, as she begins her fifth term. Are you and your family struggling with challenges related to this economy? Worried about shrinking resources for public education? Wondering about changes in health care? Or is your primary focus on whether or not undocumented individuals will be able to obtain drivers’ licenses?