Illinois Illegal Immigrant Driver's License Law Signed, Criticisms Remain

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According to an article from the Chicago Tribune , Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a bill into law that allows illegal immigrants in the state to obtain a special driver's license. The bill passed the legislative step earlier this month with the goal that giving illegal immigrants a driver's license will help prevent accidents involving unlicensed and uninsured drivers, which is a major problem in Illinois. However, with the governor's signing of the bill also comes major concerns and criticisms.

Here are some facts and details about the signing of the bill, what it means for illegal immigrants in the state, and the criticism and concern surrounding it:

* Quinn, a longtime supporter of the measure, officially signed Senate Bill 957 into law on Sunday while joined by lawmakers and community leaders, noted a state press release .

* The main goal of the legislation is to reduce the number of unlicensed drivers, an estimated 250,000 individuals, on state roads that pose a risk to all drivers.

* The governor commented, "This common sense law will help everybody, regardless of their background, learn the rules of the road, pass a driving test and get insurance. As a result, our roads will be safer, we will create more access to job opportunities and our economic growth will be strengthened."

* WGN reported that the Illinois Highway Safety Coalition estimates that unlicensed and uninsured drivers are involved in 80,000 accidents, causing $660 million in damages, in the state every year.

* If just half of the 250,000 individuals were properly insurance and licensed, Illinois auto insurance policy holders would save about $46 million collectively each year in premiums.

* Eligible illegal immigrants must not be able to obtain a social security number and have lived in Illinois for more than year with proof of residency through a utility bill, rental lease, or similar document.

* Those with the temporary driver's license, which is only valid for three years, must also pass a driver's test, haven their picture taken, and carry valid auto insurance otherwise the license will not be valid, reported CBS St. Louis .

* According to the Associated Press , criticisms of the measure cite issues, fraud, and abuses in the three other states, New Mexico, Washington, and Utah, where illegal immigrants are given driver's licenses or permits.

* In New Mexico, a fraud ring was found to be helping illegal immigrants from other states forge documents to obtain a state license.

* In Washington, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, wrote an essay about how he was able to get a license despite not living at the address on his application.

* Opponents also disagree with Illinois' lack of a fingerprinting requirement, something that local law enforcement officials are strongly in favor of.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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