The Patriot Post® · Illegals: 'Right' to Drive?

By Arnold Ahlert ·

In one of the most brazen gambits of the year, five Mexican illegal immigrants and two Latino-focused nonprofit organizations filed suit seeking to reverse Oregon voters’ rejection of a measure granting illegal immigrants state “driver’s cards.” Unsurprisingly, the so-called race card is an integral part of the mix.

Measure 88, which would have provided driver’s cards to those who couldn’t prove they’re in the country legally, failed by a whopping margin of 66.1% to 33.9% during the 2014 mid-term election. Voters in 35 of Oregon’s 36 counties and every congressional district in the state rejected the measure, even though Oregon is a Democrat stronghold, and the pro-illegal constituency outspent their opponents by a 10 to 1 margin.

In other words, when Democrat voters get a say on the issue they stand in direct opposition to Democrat politicians — the very same Democrat politicians who label any resistance to their pro-amnesty agenda as bigoted and xenophobic.

Regardless, Democrat Party allies filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, alleging that Measure 88 is unconstitutional because it is “arbitrary” and “capricious,” “motivated, at least in part, by animus towards Mexicans and Central Americans,” and violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Democrat Gov. Kate Brown and Department of Transportation leaders are named as defendants in the case.

Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, put the issue in proper perspective. “People were not swayed by their arguments that they deserve to have a driver’s card so they could more easily get to their jobs,” she said. “They’re not supposed to be working here.”

Kendoll further insisted the electorate was motivated by national security concerns and Mexican drug cartels — not race. She noted that illegals haven’t received immigration checks, and that licenses would facilitate their ability to transport narcotics up and down the West Coast.

There is considerable weight to her argument. In October, Breitbart News reported the bust of “a massive Mexican cartel methamphetamine (meth) ring” in Oregon, one that “spanned from the Mexican state of Michoacán through Texas, California, and Oregon.” Many of the 24 defendants charged in the case are illegal aliens, and court documents obtained by Breitbart reveal collaboration between the cartels and domestic gangs, as well as the news that Mexican cartels are manufacturing meth domestically, not just importing it. This latest roundup follows a 2013 cartel-related narcotics bust characterized by law enforcement officials as “the largest one-day roundup of drug-dealing suspects in recent Oregon history.”

Nonetheless, the suit was filed on behalf of five anonymous illegals, all of whom came to Oregon from Mexico before 2000, making them eligible for a short-term driver’s licenses under state law SB 833. That legislation was signed in 2013 by disgraced former Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber, granting driver’s cards to those who couldn’t prove they were in Oregon legally. The card was a substitute for driver’s licenses that requires proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country, according to a 2008 state law.

Prior to SB 833’s passage, Oregon allowed state residents to obtain a license regardless of their status. The 2005 federal REAL ID Act requires states to standardize driver’s licenses for a national database allegedly aimed at protecting national security. The law further noted that state ID cards would not be accepted for “federal purposes,” such as boarding an aircraft or gaining entry to a federal facility.

Opponents of the measure vowed to initiate a voter referendum in 2014 and submitted nearly 71,000 signatures to do so. Of that total, 58,291 were validated, putting the measure on the ballot where it was roundly defeated.

Yet as is so often the case when voters reject the progressive agenda, the sore losers then turned to the courts. Joining the five illegals are Familias en Acción and Los Niños Cuentan, two Portland-area nonprofit groups who contend the law forces them to “spend significant time and to divert limited resources” to provide transportation for their “clients.”

The lawsuit adds a similar dollop of chutzpah to the mix. “People who are unable to drive lawfully in Oregon suffer societal, economic and health-related disadvantages,” it states. It further notes that approximately 120,000 illegal immigrants live in Oregon, and while SB 833’s opponents made multiple references to Mexico and Central America in the official Voters’ Pamphlet, they “did not single out, or even mention, immigrants of any other race or nationality.”

Adding insult to injury, the suit seeks class action certification to include everyone who might have qualified for the driver’s card. Legislative staff estimates that a whopping 84,000 driver’s cards would have been issued in the first nine months following SB 833’s passage, revealing the stakes in play here.

Andrea Miller, executive director of Causa Oregon, an immigrant rights group, is another activist who disdains the democratic process. “We are very excited by this legal strategy,” she said, “mostly because we continue to see and continue to hear that the driver cards is [sic] a top priority and a top need.”

Norman Williams, associate dean for academic affairs at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, contends the plaintiffs’ best argument is to exploit the equal protection clause and insist the state has no rational basis for depriving illegal aliens from Latin America the right to drive on state roads. He further contends they don’t have to prove every Oregon voter was racially motivated, but rather that “there were enough voters who voted ‘no’ who were prompted to do so because of racial concerns, that could have tipped the balance.”

Given the lopsided voting results, how they would do that remains a mystery. Furthermore, the demand for class action certification should infuriate a vast majority of Oregonian voters, not just because their votes might be tossed aside, but because there is only one defining characteristic of that class: every member of it is in this nation illegally. More likely that is the “animus” that drove the majority of Oregonian voters in 2014.

Williams believes the plaintiffs’ chances for success are slim, admitting, “Federal judges are very hesitant to strike down state statutes on constitutional grounds.” Maybe, but as wide-open borders, sanctuary cities and Barack Obama’s unconstitutional efforts to legalize millions of illegals indicate, Rule of Law often takes a back seat to leftist political shenanigans — shenanigans often sanctioned by the courts.

Thus the American Left has opened up another front in its continuing war against Rule of Law and the democratic process. In a better nation, the notion that a federal court could kick states’ rights to the curb in an effort to elevate the demands of illegal immigrants over the votes of American citizens would be seen as the contemptuous nonsense it truly represents.

In this nation, however, states that wish to confer privileges on law-breakers have been free to do so, even when those privileges conflict with federal immigration law. The American Left now insists that states should be forced to do so. The fundamental transformation of the U.S. into a banana republic requires nothing less.