A Chance At Drivers' Licenses in Illinois

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UPDATE: I just spoke with a member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League who has that I identify her only by her first name, Cindy. From what little I was able to speak to her, it sounds to me like she personifies what I think the story of this year is going to be as undocumented youth who have won some small measure of safety through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program work to protect friends and family around them. Cindy is eligible for a regular driver's license after receiving deferred action under DACA, but her parents and other members of her community are not, and that's why she's in Springfield fighting for the passage of S.B. 957.

According to IYJL the bill just passed out of committee but there about 5 votes short in the House. Speaker Madigan, as far as I can tell has not yet publicly said whether he publicly supports or opposes the bill. Cindy said to keep pushing Speaker Madigan, and if you live in Illinois to contact your legislators. If your legislator already supports the bill, ask them to move other legislators.

ORIGINAL POST: It looks like it's going to come down to the wire, but there's a real chance that 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois could be able to drive without fear coming out of this legislative session in Illinois.

This is bigger than Illinois. It could reverse a national trend that the pro-migrant movement has been on the losing side of for some time.
Ever since Sept. 11, and the passage of the REAL ID Act, undocumented immigrants have been losing their access to drivers' licenses in state after state. As of now, only Washington state and New Mexico allow undocumented immigrants to access drivers' licenses.

Illinois, though, has found a way around the REAL ID act by offering drivers' licenses called "Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses." They would be different than regular driver's licenses in that they wouldn't be able to be used to enter federal buildings, vote, or fly on a plane. But they would be able to be used for what driver's licenses should be used for, testing, identifying, and insuring, drivers.

It's not a perfect solution, of course, and I'm not sure there will ever be one until the federal government wakes up, and recognizes the millions of undocumented people in the U.S. as the fully contributing members of society that they are with a way to become citizens. Still it's a major step forward, and could go a long way in providing states with a way to allow undocumented immigrants to drive without the fear that they could be removed from their families and the homes they've built in the U.S. Oh yeah, and it will make the roads a lot safer for everyone else, too.

The driver's license bill in Illinois, S.B. 957 has already passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority 41-14, now it just needs to pass the House by Jan. 8. Over 1,700 people have already signed a petition I helped build for Presente.org demanding that Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan move the bill forward. Sign it, if you haven't yet, and if you have any other ideas for how to push the bill forward in Illinois or something like it in other states say so in the comments.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on January 6, 2013 2:55 PM.

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