Immigrant Driver’s Licenses Pass, Gov Says He’ll Sign

The Illinois House has approved a measure that would create a new class of drivers licenses for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. As Brian Mackey reports, the measure had less Republican support than it did one month ago.

When the Illinois Senate approved immigrant driver’s licenses last month, just one Republican spoke out against the legislation.
But by the time the House got to the measure, the mood was considerably different.

Some thought applicants should be fingerprinted. Others — like Rep. Dwight Kay, a Republican from Glen Carbon — had a more fundamental problem.

KAY: “Why are we engaging in the activities of something that the U.S. Government should be taking upon themselves?”

But supporters of the driver’s licenses, like House Republican leader Tom Cross, say lawmakers have to act precisely because the federal government hasn’t.

CROSS: “Do we just sit here and say, ‘We’re not going to do anything’? Are we going to sit here and just continuously blame the federal government for their lack of action?”

Supporters say there are 250-thousand unlicensed immigrants already driving on Illinois roadways. They say this change will improve public safety by requiring them to get tested and buy car insurance.

The measure passed on a bipartisan vote of 65-46. Gov. Pat Quinn says he looks forward to signing the legislation.

— Brian Mackey

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