An estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants drive in Illinois, and supporters say passing the measure would help make roads safer by requiring driving tests.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to grant temporary drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, the final legislative step before Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the measure into law.
Illinois would be the fourth state to offer some form of permits, along with Washington state and New Mexico, which offer drivers licenses, and Utah, which provides driving permits.
The Illinois measure would extend to illegal immigrants the existing temporary visitor driver's license, used by legal immigrants.
The licenses are "visually distinct" from ordinary licenses, with a purple background and the words "not valid for identification" on the front, said Lawrence Benito, chief executive of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
The vote in the House, was 65 to 46, after the state Senate on Dec. 4 overwhelmingly approved the legislation.
Supporters said an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants drive in Illinois and the measure would make the roads safer by subjecting immigrants to driving tests.
Republican opposition to drivers licenses for illegal immigrants faded after the Nov. 6 election when Hispanics voted heavily for the re-election of President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Illinois state legislature.
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