Written by Steven Keith
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 00:00
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a piece of legislation into law last week that gives undocumented immigrants living in the state the right to drive.
As part of Senate Bill 957, undocumented immigrants can obtain a three-year Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL) through the State of Illinois. To obtain a TVDL, undocumented immigrants must prove they’ve lived in the state for more than one year and have proper identification.
“They would be required to show all of their identification that the law requires, which is a letter of ineligibility for a social security card; proof of signature; proof of date of birth, which is a birth certificate; they would have to have a valid passport from their native country or a counselor identification card; and they would have to have documentation to prove that they’ve been living in Illinois for at least one year,” said Illinois Secretary of State’s Office Spokesman Henry Haupt. “We’re in the process of determining exactly what that documentation would be. We want to prove that there’s been a one-year period, so perhaps, we would require a series of college transcripts or high school transcripts or bills that prove the same address over an extended period of time.”
TVDL applicants must take and pass a written test, vision test and driving test.
To prevent fraud, the Secretary of State’s Office will document the identification of TVDL applicants into a facial recognition database.
“They will have their photo taken and the photo will then run through our facial recognition system that matches all of the images in our database to guard against potential fraud,” said Haupt. “We want this TVDL to be a very secure document.”
The purple-bordered TVDL card will be different than standard driver’s licenses, and valid only for driving purposes. It cannot be used as a form of identification.
“The TVDL is not a valid for identification,” said Haupt. “It will be printed on the face of the driver’s license, ‘not valid for identification.’ It will not allow you to enter an airplane, it will not allow you to gain entrance to a federal building, wouldn’t allow you to register to vote, wouldn’t allow you to apply for a FOID card. It’s simply good for driving and nothing else.”
TVDL holders must have and maintain automobile insurance.
“If an individual has a TVDL and is pulled over by a police officer and they do not have active automobile insurance, then the TVDL is automatically invalid,” said Haupt. “So in that case, the police officer could write the driver a ticket for driving without insurance as well as driving without a license.”
Applicants who have all of the required identification and documents, and pass all of the required tests will receive their TVDL by mail, not at state facilities. The state will begin accepting applications in November, 10 months after Quinn signed the bill.
“The way law is written, it takes no sooner than 10 months from the date of the governor’s signature, and he signed it on January 27, so sometime in late November,” said Haupt.
Each TVDL will cost $30, the same cost of a standard driver’s license.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights was the driving force behind Senate Bill 957.
“This is an issue we’ve been working on for a dozen years,” said Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Policy Director Fred Tsao. “This is something that has been very important to the people we work with, these undocumented immigrants and their families who need to be able to support themselves — to go to worship, go to church, go to work, go to the store.
Tsao expects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to apply for the TVDL.
“Illinois’ undocumented population is about 500,000,” said Tsao. “Our estimates of people who are actually taking out into the roads (illegally) is about a quarter of a million, so we expect a substantial number of those motorists to apply for the Temporary Visitor’s License and get themselves licensed.”
Illinois is the fourth and most populous state to give undocumented immigrants permission to drive. New Mexico and Washington both issue licenses, while Utah issues permits.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 15:05