Preckwinkle speaks out in support of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants

January 4, 2013

(WBEZ/Bill Healy)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is supporting a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally in Illinois.

Preckwinkle said the legislation has the potential to ease the burden on the county’s courts and jails, and save taxpayers money. She said more than 40,000 tickets were issued for driving without a license in Cook County last year.

“The proposal on the table is a vast improvement over the present situation where upon if you are stopped and you are undocumented and don’t have a driver’s license, you end up in the jail,” said Preckwinkle.

The legislation would be similar to an existing temporary visitor driver’s license currently given to non-citizens with legal status.

“The people that use it right now are often foreign students or the spouses of immigrant workers that have visas,” said Lawrence Benito from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.  

Undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for the same temporary driver’s licenses, Benito said.

Preckwinkle is encouraging lawmakers in Springfield to approve the measure. The bill recently passed the Senate and could come up for a vote in the House next week.

If passed, an estimated 250,000 immigrants could qualify for a driver’s license and car insurance.