Undocumented immigrants will soon be able to drive legally in Illinois

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A controversial plan to let undocumented immigrants get driver's licenses in Illinois is about to become reality.

Secretary of State Jesse White announced Illinois will begin accepting applications for those licenses in December.

"They feel like they are afraid to be doing something, to go out and visit someone,” said Laura Huicohea of Casa Guanajuato Quad Cities.

That fear could soon be gone for some of Huicochea’s family members. They’re undocumented, but in the next few months will be able to drive legally in Illinois.

The Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses are valid only for driving, not for identification. The licenses do not allow the holder to get on an airplane, enter a federal building, or register for a Firearm Owner Identification card.

"To have these documents that prove they can be driving...they feel more comfortable,” said Huicochea.

In December, undocumented immigrants will be able to get a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License. They’ll be valid for three years and can only be used for driving. The applicant will need to pass vision, written and road exams and to prove they’ve lived in Illinois for at least one year.  Other documents are also needed to get the license.

"It's a win-win for all of us,” said Michael Woods, Executive Director of Casa Guanajuato Quad Cities. He says more than 1,000 undocumented immigrants from the Quad Cities area will benefit from the driver's licenses.

"It's a win for the individuals that are unauthorized to work here and live here, that they at least have the right to be legal in the context of driving. But all of the individuals on the road, hopefully they'll know they're protected because they'll know everyone has gone through proper driving training and have been certified,” said Woods.

Drivers will also need to have proof of liability insurance before getting the license.

Starting November 12, drivers can make appointments to apply for the licenses. The appointments can be made online http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com or by phone at 855-236-1155.  The appointments are only available at 25 locations in the state, including a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License location at 2001 Fifth St., Suite 10 in Silvis.