On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) and other top state leaders said they will support legislation that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in the state.
Quinn said he would such a bill if the legislation, which has yet to be written, comes to his desk.
“This is a safety issue that impacts every driver in Illinois, and we should join together to take swift action to save lives,” Quinn said. “Making sure all motorists, regardless of their background, are licensed and insured will drive economic growth and ease the financial burden on all Illinois motorists.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) also said he would “strongly support” driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
“I will be a strong advocate for this bill as we work to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the country,” Emanuel said.
New Mexico and Washington issue licenses to illegal immigrants without any designations while Utah issues licenses to illegal immigrants and marks them as “noncompliant.”
Janice Kephart, a former counsel to the September 11 Commission, said if illegal immigrants are added to a program that gives licenses to legal foreign visitors, it may not run afoul of the federal Real ID law.
According to Illinois officials, “there are 250,000 unlicensed immigrants in their state, and licensing and insuring half of them would save state drivers $46 million a year in premium payments.”
Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 but has continued to delay implementation. The current deadline is Jan. 15, 2013.