Oregonians asked for it

Two weeks in on Oregon's strict new rules for driver licensing, and the natives are not only restless, they're cranky.

Many have arrived at an office of the state Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division unaware that Oregon since July 1 has required some serious identification before it will hand over a new license or even a renewal.

You could be a descendant of the original Oregonian, and still the state will require you to come up with proof of citizenship or legal residency (usually a passport or original birth certificate) and a Social Security number. And it will require you to present it again every time you come to get a renewal.

If you've grown accustomed to renewing the card with nothing more than the usual red tape every eight years, it can all seem a little over the top.

But it's also what Oregonians asked for when they said this state needed a better system for keeping undocumented workers off the road and to cut down on identification crime.

In response, the Legislature approved the new requirements in its last session. Still in the works: facial recognition software that will decide whether you are who your name says you are, electronic verification of immigration data and "limited-term" licenses for applicants with limited U.S. stays.

The new layers of bureaucracy add to the DMV's expenses, so we all pay more starting this month for the privilege of carrying a renewed license.

We suspect more than a few customers have the reaction of a blond-haired woman renewing at the Medford office last week. Frustrated by the new requirements, she asked: "Do I look like an illegal alien?"

It's fair to say she doesn't look like she just crossed the border at Mexico, but also that illegal aliens can and do come from a lot of directions.

If threats to the nation's security could be resolved by looking at someone, this would be easier all around.

But of course that's not the case. Impending federal regulations are even pickier than Oregon's new ones, meaning even more licensing red tape is likely in all our futures.

We have just one suggestion for Oregon legislators as they review how this has gone, and that's that they explore whether it's possible to allow drivers to avoid going through the whole document process every time they renew.

Big Brother is watching, and maybe that's what the nation needs. But if he can cut us even a little slack while protecting our security, we'd all appreciate it.

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