Illinois Considers Special Drivers’ Licenses for Undocumented Workers | Missouri & Illinois Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

Illinois politicians are proposing a new piece of legislation that would grant driver’s licenses to undocumented workers living in Illinois. Currently, Washington state and New Mexico are the only states that allow undocumented workers to get licenses. With Illinois being one of the bigger states, if they adopt this piece of legislature, more states are likely to follow.

Supporters say it is about time for this law to be passed. By granting driver’s licenses to undocumented workers, it would be good for public safety because motorists would have to be tested for driving skills and they would also have to buy car insurance. Not only is this a positive step forward for immigrants, but it is for the general good of all society. “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. Democrats are generally excited about the new law and say there is a good chance that it will pass in the near future.

With the re-election of President Obama, leaders from both parties are seriously discussing comprehensive immigration reform. With Republicans in agreement that changes must be made, this small change can spark a nationwide issuing of identification for immigrants. The Safety Coalition is backing the Democrats’ proposal and encourages people to obtain driver’s licenses because of the push for obtaining car insurance. In New Mexico, since 2003, “the rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to under 9 percent.” About 80,000 accidents in Illinois each year involve unlicensed, uninsured drivers. This amounts to over $660 million in damage. Immigrant drivers cost the system about $64 million just in damage claims. By making car insurance a priority, drivers will be held accountable for accidents that occur making it a safer situation for all drivers out on the road.

Critics of the law are worried that the driver’s licenses will be used for fraud. The new licenses would be “visually distinct” with purple backgrounds and words “not valid for identification” on the front. This way, the licenses could not be used for fake identification. The license would be unique to those who are not citizens. Whether or not this law will pass is something that will be determined shortly. However, with the new Missouri Senate Panel looking into passing legislation deemed more “immigrant-friendly” Missouri, some question if a similar law is in our near future. If you have questions regarding the immigration laws in Missouri, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page here.