CHICAGO (Reuters) – Illinois may soon become the most populous U.S. state to grant a form of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, after the nation’s growing Hispanic population boosted the power of Democrats in national and state elections on November 6.
A bipartisan group of Illinois politicians announced on Tuesday they would propose such a law when the legislature convenes on November 27.
Washington state and New Mexico are the only states that currently allow illegal immigrants to get licenses. Utah allows driving permits. As the fifth most populous state, Illinois would be the biggest state to adopt such a law.
A California law that allows immigrants with federal work permits to receive driver’s licenses will take effect January 1, 2013.
Supporters said the law would be good for public safety, allowing Illinois immigrant motorists to get tested on their driving skills and buy insurance.
“When you have a quarter of a million undocumented drivers on the road, it’s definitely a safety concern,” said Ron Holmes, spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who is backing the measure along with fellow Democrats Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
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