Gov. Quinn signs bill that lets illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 27, 2013 11:42AM
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation giving undocumented immigrants the right to get a driver’s license in Illinois. He held the bill up after signing it Sunday at Instituto del Progreso Latino, 2520 S. Western Ave. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:07PM
The signing of a bill Sunday allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses attracted dozens of potential motorists and a pack of top Illinois politicians, all eager to tout their role in legislation many see as a precursor to comprehensive immigration reform that could create a windfall of new citizens, and voters.
In addition to Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle constituted a fraction of elected officials who occupied a podium for 75 minutes at a Little Village community center. Republican leaders Tom Cross and Christine Radogno were there as well.
“Today the family of Illinois celebrates the passage of an important law that will make our roads safer,” said Quinn.
A mariachi band began playing moments after Quinn, using 28 separate commemorative pens, signed the bill, which calls for licenses to begin being issued Oct. 1.
Carmen Castillo, 52, witnessed the event and plans to apply for a license. She looks forward to finally being able to relax behind the wheel instead of constantly being afraid of the police. Her first joy ride will be to church, to thank God for the bill.
“My children could sense my fear when they were little and I was driving,” said Castillo, who immigrated from Mexico to Bolingbrook, where she works as a restaurant cook. “I was afraid to put them in activities like soccer and gymnastics because of the driving,” said Castillo, who currently only drives to and from work.
Auto insurance is a requirement for drivers under the new Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s Licenses program, which also requires drivers to pass a vision exam, a written test and driving test, said Secretary of State Jesse White during the bill signing ceremony Sunday afternoon in the Little Village neighborhood.
The licenses will be limited to driving purposes only, said White, who added they will not be accepted as valid identification for a host of other activities, such as boarding an airplane.
Illinois is now the fourth and most populous state to give illegal immigrants permission to drive.
Backers of the proposal tout it as a public-safety measure and say that facial recognition technology is reliable enough to prevent fraud. But opponents point to hundreds of fraudulent cases in New Mexico, Washington and Utah, which give illegal immigrants permission to drive.
Illinois will not require applicants to be fingerprinted, for fear that would discourage immigrants from applying.