By a vote of 65 to 46, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a legislation on Tuesday to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. This comes after the measure received overwhelming endorsement from the state Senate in December.
Governor Patrick Quinn expressed his willingness to sign the bill into law. “Roads will be safer if we ensure every driver learns the rules and is trained to drive safely,” he said. According to the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition, unlicensed and uninsured drivers are involved in almost 80,000 accidents in the state each year.
Under the new law, Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses, now available for foreigners, will also become available for undocumented immigrants. To be eligible for a license, all drivers must have lived in Illinois for at least a year, as well as successfully completed road tests and have proper insurance. These licenses are renewable every three years and cannot be used for other identification purposes such as voting.
A 2010 Pew Research Hispanic Center survey revealed that 16 percent of the Illinois population—the fifth most populous state in the U.S.—is of Hispanic descent. Once signed, Illinois will join Washington, Utah and New Mexico as the only states in the U.S. that provide driving permits or licenses for undocumented immigrants. For Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White Tuesday was a victory not only for Illinois’ estimated 250,000 undocumented immigrants of legal age to drive, but also for all the residents who will now feel safer on the road.