Illinois could soon offer driving privileges to illegal immigrants

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, November 26, 2012

A push is underway by some heavy hitters in Illinois to change licensing rules to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

In recent years, the list of states providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants has dropped from nine to two – New Mexico and Washington. In Utah, illegal immigrants can obtain licenses to drive, but they cannot be used as identification.

An effort underway in Illinois would reverse the trend. Gov. Pat Quinn is among some influential politicians supporting an initiative to create a special driver’s license for illegal immigrants.

State law now requires people to show proof of citizenship to obtain driving privileges. The program allows for temporary licenses for foreign visitors in the country legally.

Quinn and others are advocating a change to require a special license and insurance for illegal immigrants. The three-year license would be distinct from a regular driver’s license and would not be valid for identification purposes other than driving or buying auto insurance.

There are an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrant motorists in Illinois, according to state figures.

Quinn said it is a safety issue that affects every driver in Illinois.

“Making sure all motorists, regardless of their background, are licensed and insured will drive economic growth and ease the financial burden on all Illinois motorists,” Quinn said in a statement.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also voiced support for the change. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is expected to introduce the bill at the statehouse in the coming weeks.

Opponents say the driving privilege cards would “reward” people for disobeying immigration rules.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

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