Group Wants Special Licenses for Immigrants

Nov 8, 2012

An immigrants’ rights group is renewing an effort to get a special type of Illinois driver's license for people who came to the United States  illegally. If the legislature decides to take it up, it would be part of a tradition of waiting until after an election to tackle controversial legislation.

Credit Secretary of State

Lawrence Benito, with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says it’s a matter of public safety. He says there are 250,000 immigrants driving in Illinois without valid licenses.

"Our campaign is to make sure that these people are licensed, trained and insured to drive." - Lawrence Benito

Instead of having to present a birth certificate or social security number, immigrants could present a federal tax number or an ID supplied by a U.S. diplomatic office of their home country. Timing this push for the post-election period is not an accident.

The idea is that lame-duck lawmakers – who’re retiring or lost re-election – might be willing to support a controversial measure since it can no longer be used against them in future campaigns. In the lame-duck veto session two years ago, Illinois lawmakers approved several controversial measures, including civil unions, repeal of the death penalty, and an increase in the state income tax.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report