Illinois governor signs measure allowing noncitizens to get standard driver’s licenses
Key Republican questioned Democrats meddling in immigration issues the federal government controls.
Of more than 150 bills signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday, one allows undocumented immigrants in Illinois to get a standard driver’s license like citizens can get.
“This legislation is a significant step in eliminating the barriers to opportunity that many undocumented immigrants face,” Pritzker said. “We’re ensuring every eligible individual can obtain a driver’s license, making our roads safer, decreasing stigma, and creating more equitable systems for all.”
Illinois has had a Temporary Visitor Driver's License program for a decade that allowed noncitizens that meet certain criteria to obtain a license that noted "NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION" across the top. Signed Friday, the new license will say "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY."
The measure that begins Jan. 1 was an initiative of Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias.
“Illinois embraces immigrants who are in search of the American dream,” Giannoulias said during a news conference last week. “And I see people across the state who represent the very best of America.”
State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Chicago, said the measure is important to the immigrant community by allowing them to shake a stigma.
“This bill will change a lot of families' lives as their driver license will no longer have a purple line anymore,” she said.
State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mohamet, opposed the bill. He questioned Democrats meddling in immigration issues the federal government controls.
“This is a federal issue that needs a federal solution, not a state of Illinois gesticulation to the wills of the Chicago political machine who does nothing but kowtows to illegal immigrants,” Rose said.
The bill passed along partisan lines. State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said partisan bills are the norm at the Democrat-controlled Illinois Statehouse.
“We have a supermajority who is extremely arrogant, whose only concern is press releases. I’m concerned about policies,” McClure said. “He should be much more concerned about our policies than his press releases.”
Not all bills signed Friday were partisan. One of several bipartisan measures extends the statute of limitation to go after fraud in taxpayer-funded COVID-19 relief programs.
As of Friday, an estimated 300 bills remained on the governor’s desk.