Senate gives green light on driver license bill for illegal immigrants

By Denise Jackson

December 5, 2012 Updated Dec 6, 2012 at 11:02 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Governor Pat Quinn says he will support a bill that would allow undocumented workers to get an Illinois driver's license.

The Illinois Senate has given the green light on a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain an Illinois driver's license. The temporary visitor driver's license would be similar to one currently used by the motor vehicle department.

Members of Illinois People's action lobbied in Springfield last week in support of the bill.

"A lot of these people don't venture out as much as they use to, but they still drive because sometimes it's a necessity. Usually with the Illinois winters, they're gonna get in their cars," said IPA Member Sonny Garcia.

"They risk driving without a drivers license and without insurance, and basically those at major risk are the people with driver's license and insurance. In case of any accidents, we are the people who pay for that," said IPA Member Felipe Rodriguez.

According to the Highway Safety Coalition there are about 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Illinois who are driving without licenses or insurance. The group says that has resulted in millions of dollars in insurance claims.

Another group that's not opposed to the bill wants to see an amendment attached that would require undocumented immigrants to take a formal driver training class.

Kristina Hestrom is a member of the Illinois Commercial Driver Training School Association and owns a Balda Driving School in Peoria. Hestrom adds some of her foreign students say becoming acclimated to driving in the US is different compared to their native countries.

"There's things you don't grasp from reading a book; there's things that need to be applied one on one. And there's other things they can learn as well like driving in bad weather. A lot of times, they come from areas where they don't have our blizzard conditions," she said.

Hestrom says she is reaching out to local state representatives to see if they will consider the formal training as a recommendation.

The House is expected to take up the measure during the January lame duck session.

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