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Wyden praises Senate OK of ‘compact migrants’ bill


Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised Thursday’s Senate passage of a bipartisan bill clarifying that citizens of three former U.S. territories now living in the United States can qualify for important identification documents such as driver’s licenses.

The bill, H.R, 3398, covers more than 30,000 citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau — including an estimated several thousand living in Oregon.

The affected residents of these Pacific Island nations are often referred to as “compact migrants” because their nations are in a “Compact of Free Association” with the United States. Although “compact migrants” are not U.S. citizens, they are considered legal non-immigrants and don’t need a visa to live and work in the United States.

The Real ID Modification for Freely Associated States Act passed by the Senate makes a fix to the REAL ID Act of 2005 setting identification standards so that “compact migrants” are among those able to get state identification cards and drivers’ licenses.

“Compact migrants contribute much to Oregon and our country, and access to driver’s licenses is essential to their ability to work and raise a family,” said Wyden, who wrote the original legislation in 2014. “Fixing this oversight to the Real ID Act has been a longstanding interest of mine, and I’m gratified it’s done at long last.”

The Senate’s unanimous passage of the House bill introduced by Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) now sends the legislation to the White House.

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