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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Thousands Celebrate Legislative Victories At Salem May Day Rally

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Immigrants rights groups and labor unions held May Day rallies across the northwest Wednesday. It was a joyous occasion at the Oregon capitol, where thousands of people were on hand to celebrate a pair of legislative victories.

At first blush, this rally seemed a lot like the May Day rallies of past years. People chanting: "Si se puede, si se puede"

But instead of "yes we can" perhaps the marchers should have said "yes we did."

Oregon lawmakers have already handed advocates for immigrants two major victories this session. One measure allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Oregon public universities. The other gives driving privileges to people without legal presence.

The May Day crowd watched as Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber addressed them in Spanish then signed the drivers' license bill into law.

But after the celebration ends, there might be a new political battle.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook all day today. People are mad as hell and they want to know how we can stop this," says Cynthia Kendoll with Oregonians For Immigration Reform.

She says starting next week, her group will collect signatures to force a referendum on the new drivers' license law.

On the Web:

Video: Gov. Kitzhaber remarks at Salem May Day rally - YouTube/John Kitzhaber
SB 833: Driver license bill - Oregon Legislature