Political Pistachio

Blog Home of the Writer and AM and FM Radio Host, Douglas V. Gibbs.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Illinois Defies Immigration Law, Gives Licenses to Illegal Aliens

Are you kidding me?

As Illinois becomes the fourth and most populous state to give illegal immigrants permission to drive, nagging concerns remain about whether there are enough safeguards to avoid the identity fraud and other pitfalls other states faced.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed Illinois' measure into law Sunday in Chicago. Backers, including Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some of the state's top Republicans, tout it as a public-safety measure. They argue that required facial recognition technology is reliable enough to prevent fraud.

They hailed it as an important step for immigrant rights in Illinois, which approved its own Dream Act in 2010 to create a privately-funded scholarship program for immigrant students. President Barack Obama plans to discuss his plan to overhaul the immigration system during a trip to Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"This was a bipartisan effort to pass an important law," Quinn said. "When the president speaks on Tuesday, he can say about his home state of Illinois ... we not only passed the Dream Act last year, we passed driver's licenses for those who are undocumented ."

However, the law's opponents have pointed to hundreds of fraudulent cases in New Mexico, Washington and Utah after those states began giving illegal immigrants permission to drive. Illinois will not require applicants to be fingerprinted, for fear that would discourage immigrants from applying.

"How many people would apply for this document knowing that fingerprints will be going to (federal authorities)? Probably not all that many," said Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a driving-force behind the measure.

Proponents say it will allow an estimated 250,000 people unlawfully residing in the state to apply for a three-year temporary driver's license and require them to get training and insurance. The Illinois secretary of state's office said the licenses will be available starting in October.


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