A hardy crew of undocumented immigrants and their supporters are have been trudging through the rain for days, walking from Portland to Salem this week to rally support for a plan to make it easier for immigrants to get drivers licenses.
Under a 2008 law change, Oregon now requires proof that you're a citizen to get a drivers license. The law prevents about 1,000 people a month from getting drivers licenses, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. A bill to change the drivers license rules back again got a hearing in Salem during the last legislative session, but didn't go anywhere. Last spring, Governor Kitzhaber promised he would reexamine the issue and now groups like the Northwest Immigrant Youth Alliance and Oregon Dream Activists are pressuring Kitzhaber to issue an executive order reverting Oregon to its pre-2008 license rules.
I talked with walker Adriana Limon, 24, as she took a break in Woodburn, about 19 miles of the activists' final destination in Salem. Limon says her family used to live here in Portland, but recently moved up to Washington for the sole purpose of getting IDs—unlike Oregon, Washington doesn't require a social security number to get a license. "It's a big change and it's pretty sad. I had to leave my friends, everything," says Limon.
This was not the most scenic weekend to stroll from Portland; it poured rain, as the immigrant group walked five or so hours both days on their route south. "Yesterday was really bad, the wind was really hard so we got wet," says Limon.
You can follow along on their soggy walk via Facebook.