Illinois leaders make pitch to allow driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

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Politicians from both political persuasions say they support legislation that would allow driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

"This is a safety issue that impacts every driver in Illinois," said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. "Making sure all motorists, regardless of their background, are licensed and insured will drive economic growth and ease the financial burden on all Illinois motorists."

It's a public safety issue but political, too. After a dismal showing with Latino voters this election, Republicans spoke in support of the legislation as well. 

"It is a piece of legislation that is morally fair, economically sound, and politically smart," said former Republican Governor Jim Edgar.

The Illinois Highway Safety Coalition estimates there could be 250,000 illegal immigrant motorists on Illinois roads who have not passed a driver's test or do not carry a valid driver's license.

Michael Woods, an advocate for immigrants in the Quad Cities, says the law will help identify motorists who are now driving illegally anyway.

"It's important to know who's on our roads. Undocumented are driving right now," Woods said.

Lawmakers are expected to debate the proposed legislation the first week of January.