Last week a bill which would give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in Illinois moved out of its committee. This week, on Tuesday, it passed 41-14 in the State Senate. The next step is for the bill to pass the House where a vote is scheduled for January.
Under current Illinois law, undocumented immigrants cannot get driver’s licenses and some supporters of the bill say this makes it more likely for these immigrants to drive without insurance and proper training. The hope is that by making it legal for undocumented immigrants to get licensed, they will be able to get insurance more easily. And because all drivers will still be required to pass a driving test, licensing illegal immigrants should improve the skill of drivers who may otherwise be on the road without formal training.
Although the bill passed with a wide margin in the Senate with support from both Democrats and Republicans it faces some resistance in the House. However, the Speaker of the House, and the sponsor of the bill both think it has a good chance of passing. Republicans have traditionally been largely opposed to immigration reform at the state level, but that sentiment is changing as the party adapts in order to court more hispanic voters. Many representatives, Republican and Democrat, see this bill as a common sense improvement and acknowledge the reality that many illegal immigrants drive despite being unlicensed, because they need to get to work or buy groceries. Changing the law will simply make it easier for these people to be trained to drive and to be covered by liability insurance.