Decline to Sign – a measure to roll back our immigrant fairness wins‏

Word travelled to the ROP office this week that anti-immigrant activists are out on the streets, collecting petition signatures for a ballot measure to repeal the recently passed Drivers Card legislation.

 Call the ROP office for materials to get the “Decline to Sign” message out in your town.

On May 1 of this year, Governor Kitzhaber signed into law legislation that allows all drivers to be tested, insured, and licensed – albeit with a “driver’s card” rather than a “driver’s license.”  This was a huge win for ROP and our allies in the immigrant rights struggle, and one that we fought for many years to win.  We had struggled in every corner of the state to pass this law in the Oregon legislature, with bipartisan support.

We celebrated on May Day at the Capitol, with our spirits high after winning both Tuition Equity and Drivers Cards in Oregon, and hopeful about immigration reform becoming reality this year.

Here is coverage of that day.

Now, there is an active effort from the anti-immigrant group Oregonians for Immigration Reform to take these driving privileges away using ballot measure referendum.

Several folks have reported that petition gatherers are out and about at post offices and grocery stores in rural counties, including here in our home of Columbia County.  It brings to mind the early years of the Rural Organizing Project, when rural residents gathered petitions to write second class citizenship into the Oregon Constitution for their LGBTQ neighbors.  How horrible it feels to see people out there, who we know from our kids’ schools and community functions, organizing to take away basic rights and dignity from us, our families, our friends.

Of course, there’s nothing that we can or should do to interfere with the signature collection, but we should absolutely make a plan about how to have a conversation based in democracy and human dignity about this issue.  Human Dignity Groups have a long history of using “Decline to Sign” tools to alert neighbors to times when proposed ballot measures go against our core values.  We remind our communities that your signature is just as powerful as your vote – and that it’s important to oppose measures at every phase that attack human dignity.

We offer a simple tool for beginning that conversation: print out the postcard attached here, and organize a few shifts outside of your local post office to talk to your neighbors about the “Decline to Sign” effort, and the importance of reading carefully any petition that we are asked to sign. Talk to them about the current effort, tell them that you support driving privileges for any Oregonian who can pass the test, and who needs to drive to go to work, the grocery store, or to drive their children to school.

Can you do a shift to pass out decline to sign flyers?  Have you seen signature gatherers out in your town?  We want to know!

And let’s be sure to tell our family and friends – “read before you sign!”

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