License to drive?
Emily Carrier of Lake Villa takes a test on the computer as she renews her driver's license. Undocumented immigrants might soon be able to get a driver's license in Illinois. The Illinois Senate has approved a bill that would allow immigrants who are in t
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:09AM
Undocumented immigrants may soon be able to apply for driver’s licenses in Illinois, but there is disagreement on the measure within the local law enforcement community.
The Illinois Senate in a 41-14 vote Dec. 4 approved a bill that would allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to apply for a driver’s licenses. The Illinois House would next need to vote on the bill before its passage, and it would need to be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.
Only two other states, Washington and New Mexico, allow such licenses
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran has been a strong proponent of the proposed law.
Curran, a Republican, has said that he believes it would make roads safer since the newly licensed drivers would have to learn the rules of the road, pass all necessary vision and driving tests and purchase insurance.
Some state lawmakers are not convinced, though, and neither is Mundelein’s Chief of Police Raymond Rose.
Though undocumented immigrants are unlikely to be represented in the numbers, Mundelein’s Hispanic population is 30.1 percent, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Illinois’ Hispanic population is 15.8 percent.
Rose said that the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is opposed to the legislation on the grounds that people getting licenses could use them in fraudulent or illicit ways.
The primary concern, Rose said, was the fact that applicants would not need to produce any official identification document in order to apply for the license.
“Who are we going to be giving [the licenses] to and what are they going to do with them?” Rose said.
Rose said the worry is that a person could use the license to buy a gun or enter an airport. Rose also mentioned voting, which only U.S. citizens are permitted by law to do.
“This [license] shouldn’t be something that will allow them to get a voter registration card,” Rose said.
Republican Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein resident, represents the 51st district in the Illinois House. The district includes Mundelein and all or parts of 13 other municipalities. Sullivan echoed Rose’s concerns about the proposed law.
Sullivan said he is concerned about the ability for fraud and House Republicans are looking at other states that allow such licenses to determine whether Illinois’ proposed law differs.
It is possible the proposed bill could be amended in the House.
If asked to vote on the bill as it is currently written, Sullivan said he would vote against it.
Antoine Rosas-Landa, the Spanish Language Media Specialist in Senate President John Cullerton’s office, said that the licenses undocumented immigrants could apply for would be temporary licenses and that this type of license is one the Secretary of State already issues. Cullerton introduced the legislation.
The secretary’s website says persons can apply for a temporary license if they are “non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into this country and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number.”
Rosas-Landa characterized the law as a minor change to existing state statues. He said it would be up to Secretary of State Jesse White to determine what documentation applicants would have to provide.
No one with the license would be able to vote, enter an airport or a federal building, Rosas-Landa said.
“At the end of the day, this document doesn’t address any immigration issues,” he said
Sullivan said he expects the House to take up the issue in early January.