Illinois Moves Forward on Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

The Illinois office that issues driver’s licenses is preparing for long lines in the upcoming months as they prepare to help undocumented immigrants apply for their long awaited licenses.

Officials lead workshop to inform immigrants

In December, appointments will be available to apply for licenses in an Aurora facility but there will be over 25 additional different designated locations across the state of Illinois where immigrants can go to get one. “This is our No. 1 priority right now in our office,” said Tom Benigno, chief of staff to Secretary of State Jesse White, who leads the office that is overseeing the initiative. Benigno was joined by two of his other colleagues who ran a workshop attended by over 50 adults explaining how the process of obtaining the temporary license would work. They also warned immigrants about possible frauds that commonly occur with immigration.

License allows immigrants to drive and obtain insurance

The new law, which was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in January, will allow undocumented immigrants to be eligible for a three-year temporary driver’s license. This license cannot be used for identification purposes, to vote, work, fly or purchase a gun. The main reason behind acquiring one is to allow immigrants to drive and obtain insurance. Supporters say this promotes public safety since immigrants will now be able to legally drive to work and school and encourage them to get car insurance. Another benefit of the license is facial recognition technology used so as to prevent fraud. It is not yet certain how many immigrants will come forward to obtain this type of license as many undocumented immigrants fear they will be discovered and deported. Officials assure immigrants they will not share their information with immigration. There are an estimated 250,000 undocumented immigrants who live in Illinois and are eligible to apply. Under this new system, about 106,000 temporary licenses should be able to be issued each year.

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