Sunday, January 27, 2013

Illinois Governor Quinn Signs Bill Allowing Non-citizens To Apply For State Driver's Licenses

Illinois Governor Quinn signs into law a bill allowing more than 250,000 of non-citizens to become eligible for state driver's licenses.

By H. Nelson Goodson
January 27, 2013

Chicago, Illinois - On Sunday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed into law a bill allowing non-citizens to apply for state driver's licenses. The measure will take effect in November and will allow more than 250,000 non-citizens residing in the state to apply for a legal driver's license.
“Driving means taking responsibility for your safety and the safety of others on the road,” Governor Quinn said. “Despite the stalemate on immigration reform in Washington D.C., Illinois is moving forward. This common sense law will help everybody, regardless of their background, learn the rules of the road, pass a driving test and get insurance. As a result, our roads will be safer, we will create more access to job opportunities and our economic growth will be strengthened.”
A signing ceremony was held at the Instituto del Progress Latino in Chicago, which serves more than 14,000 participants and families (immigrants) with education, training and job placement a year.
Earlier in the month, a bipartisan group of Illinois state legislators in the House of Representatives on a margin of 65-46 passed a state license bill to allow non-citizens to become eligible for driver's licenses. In December, a similar bill was passed by the state senate.
In November, the driver's license law will grant more than 250,000 of non-citizens in the state of Illinois eligibility to apply for licenses. Non-citizens would have to provide proof (copy) of a one year state residency by providing a lease, a utility bill(s) or other documentation. Temperary Visitor Licenses offered to tourists legally in the U.S. will also be available to non-citizens and they can be renewed every three years, but won't be valid as an ID to board a plane, buying a gun or voting purposes.
Last November's surge of Hispanic voters in Illinois gave a majority to Democrats in state government. Some Republicans in the legislature had also joined Democrats in a bipartisan push to pass the measure allowing non-citizens to get licenses.
The Illinois Highway Safety Coalition reported that an estimated 80,000 accidents per year are caused by unlicensed and uninsured drivers. The total accident costs have reached about $650 million in damages, including $64 million in damages caused by non-citizens driving without licenses, according to the Saftey Coalition.
Illinois will join both the state of Washington and New Mexico in granting licenses for non-citizens.
On January 1, 2013, California granted driver's licenses to immigrants with a federal work permit.

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