Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013

The Illinois House today passed Senate Bill 957, paving the way for undocumented immigrants to apply for Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses.

House lawmakers approved the measure on a 65-46 vote. (Read the roll call here.) The Senate previously passed the legislation, which will now go to Gov. Pat Quinn for consideration. Quinn, however, has said he will sign the bill into law.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois praised final passage of SB 957. CCI Executive Director Robert Gilligan noted in a press release the legislation would provide an important safeguard for immigrant families. Many families are torn apart when unlicensed, undocumented drivers are stopped for a minor traffic violation. With no driver's license to show police, they are often sent to deportation centers.

“Too many of our immigrant families have been torn apart by the simple act of driving,” Gilligan said.

Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses (TVDL) are currently issued to individuals with legal immigration status but no Social Security Number. TVDLs can only be used for driving, and not for identification purposes. Immigrants would not be able to use a TVDL to buy a firearm, board an airplane or cast a vote in an election.

In order to get a TVDL, immigrants would have to provide proof of at least one year of Illinois residency. They would have to pay a fee, and pass vision, written and driving tests, in addition to purchasing auto insurance. The TVDL would be good for only three years.

“This legislation will give our immigrant brothers and sisters the training to safely get to church, work and school,” Gilligan said.  “All families are safer when every driver is trained, tested, licensed and insured.”

Final passage of the legislation comes at an appropriate time: Jan. 6-12, 2013 is National Migration Week, celebrated by the Catholic Church to welcome newcomers and to push for comprehensive and compassionate federal immigration reform.