Illinois May Grant Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

Mary Wisniewski, Reuters, November 20, 2012

Illinois may soon become the most populous U.S. state to grant a form of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, after the nation’s growing Hispanic population boosted the power of Democrats in national and state elections on November 6.

A bipartisan group of Illinois politicians announced on Tuesday they would propose such a law when the legislature convenes on November 27.

Washington state and New Mexico are the only states that currently allow illegal immigrants to get licenses. Utah allows driving permits. As the fifth most populous state, Illinois would be the biggest state to adopt such a law.

A California law that allows immigrants with federal work permits to receive driver’s licenses will take effect January 1, 2013.


“When you have a quarter of a million undocumented drivers on the road, it’s definitely a safety concern,” said Ron Holmes, spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who is backing the measure along with fellow Democrats Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, a popular Republican, joined Democrats at a news conference in Chicago Tuesday to support the idea, as did Republican State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. {snip}


Illinois, like California, elected a veto-proof Democratic supermajority in the legislature this month, with Democrats now controlling all branches of government.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers are involved in almost 80,000 accidents in Illinois each year, resulting in $660 million in damage, according to the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition. Unlicensed immigrant drivers cost $64 million in damage claims alone.

The Safety Coalition said on its website that since New Mexico made the change in 2003, the rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to under 9 percent.




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