The Illinois House [official website] on Tuesday voted 65-46 [roll call, PDF] in favor of a bill [SB 0957, text] that would permit immigrants in the country illegally to obtain temporary driver's licenses if they can provide proof of one-year state residence, an unexpired passport from their country of citizenship or a valid unexpired consular identification document, and a photograph. Applicants would have to pay $30, and the licenses would last for three years and could not be used for the purchase of firearms, to vote or to board a plane. The bill has received bipartisan support, although opponents argued that it could increase identity fraud. Proponents of the bill advocated it as a public safety measure [AP report] that would allow potential licensees to take both written and driving tests and would require the immigrants to have proof of auto insurance. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] welcomed the legislation [statement]:
More than 250,000 immigrant motorists on our roads today have not passed a driving test, which presents a dangerous risk to other drivers. Illinois roads will be safer if we ensure every driver learns the rules of the road and is trained to drive safely. Not only will Senate Bill 957 save lives, it will save Illinois motorists $46 million a year in insurance premiums by making sure every driver is properly insured.The Illinois Senate approved the bill last December. Quinn stated that he looks forward to signing the bill.
In October California Governor Jerry Brown signed [JURIST report] a similar bill [AB 2189, PDF] that will allow some immigrants who came to the US as children to obtain state driver's licenses if they qualify for a new federal work permit program. In essence, the law directed California's Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to people who do not have a social security number but can prove they are authorized to be in the US under federal law. In contrast, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] recently issued an executive order [JURIST report] that instructs state agencies not to provide driver's licenses and other public benefits to undocumented immigrants who have gained the right to work under the new federal program. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] has filed a lawsuit challenging the order [JURIST report].