Illinois to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants

October 29, 2013 (CHICAGO)

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Jesse White announced a pilot program. It's taken nearly a year since the measure was passed into law to begin implementation. A lot of details had to be worked out, specifically, how to make these drivers licenses different from the standard ones. Those differences were announced Tuesday as well as the procedure that those wanting to apply will have to follow.

Starting in December, this Northwest Side facility will become one of the first in the state to issue temporary drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. Already a special area has been added to process those applications, which will be done by appointment only.

"We just wanted to make sure we did it in an orderly fashion," said Jesse White, Secretary of State.

It's estimated that at least a quarter of a million drivers on the roads of Illinois today are undocumented immigrants, driving without a license, and therefore, without insurance.

"As Washington, D.C. deals with the issues of immigration we here in the State of Illinois need to deal with the safety of our roads," said State Sen. John Cullerton.

This is what the new temporary drivers license will look like. It cannot be used as a form of identification for purposes such as boarding a plane, voting or purchasing a gun.

"If you're going to have some illegal, undocumented driver out there and they run into you, don't you think it would be nice if they have insurance?" said Sen. Cullerton.

Applicants will have to pass a vision, written and road test. But unlike regular driver's licenses they will need to provide the following documents: a valid passport or consular id and proof of Illinois residency for the previous twelve months.

The licenses will cost $30 dollars and be valid for a period of three years.

"It's peace of mind. Even for me. My parents are going to be able to get their driver's licenses now," said Erendira Rendon, Illinois Coalition of Immigration and Refugee Rights.

But those who oppose the measure insist road safety won't be improved.

"I don't believe it's going to help anything. A driver's license is nothing," said Ray Biesada, Chicago Minuteman Project.

Appointments to process temporary driver's licenses can be made online or over the phone starting November 12. Applicants will be able to go through the process in English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese Mandarin or Korean.

It will be at least a couple of years before everyone eligible for a temporary driver's license can get one. The state estimates that it will be able to process just over 106,000 licenses a year.

Appointments can be made starting November 12 at or by calling 855-236-1155.

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