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Illinois wants to give licenses to the undocumented

Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Once again, my home state of Illinois is at the epicenter of the immigrant rights movement.

From Fox News Latino:

“Activists, administrators of Chicago hospitals and chiefs of the Illinois police asked the state legislature Tuesday to pass a law authorizing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

The subject was discussed several times in the assembly over the past 14 years, but the last bill died in committee in 2007 despite having the support of Democrats and Republicans in both chambers.

What is needed are ‘real solutions’ for a problem that involves some 250,000 undocumented immigrants in the state who are estimated to drive without either a license or car insurance, Dennis Ryan, vice president of Holy Cross Hospital, told a press conference on Tuesday.”

The Highway Safety Coalition, an organization calling for the licensing of undocumented drivers nationwide, reported that over 47,000 drivers in the Chicago area were fined in 2011 for driving without a license and, “nationwide, unlicensed motorists are five times likelier to be involved in a fatal crash than licensed drivers.”

The group has proposed offering undocumented immigrants the same type of licenses provided to legal foreign residents in Illinois, a population which includes foreign students and relatives of guest workers.

Mark Curran, the Republican sheriff of a neighboring county where Latinos make up a full 21 percent of the population, has been a prominent supporter of the undocumented and the push for driver’s licenses for all Illinois drivers.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Curran said routine traffic stops involving immigrants have become an unnecessary drain on both police and judicial resources.

That’s because undocumented immigrants caught driving without a valid license have to be detained and then end up in the court system, Curran explained, noting that most of the individuals involved would be eager to get a license if only there was a procedure allowing them to do so.

‘They would love to not violate the law, but they need to feed their families, and they have to get to work,’ Curran said.

On top of that, allowing these drivers to be licensed would result in more people on the road who have been tested, Curran said, and once they have a license, more could obtain auto insurance.”

In full disclosure, my wife is a part of Illinois’s undocumented community, and we’re currently waiting for the USCIS to grant her permanent residency. She’s been fined for driving without a license a total of three times since I met her in August 2009, twice in the past few months alone — she was hit by a licensed motorist who blew through a stop sign back in July. She’s been in the country since her mother brought her from her home town of Juarez at the age of two. She’s now in her mid-20s and has a 8-year-old daughter whom she drives to school every morning.

I’ve been driving her to and from work since her last stop, because we just can’t afford for her to have any more run-ins with the law or pay another $200-plus fine.

The debate is a murky one, and I understand the opposition’s objections to such laws. But granting a driver’s license to someone who illegally crossed the border or overstayed their visa is different than granting a right to the road to someone who was brought here as a child and has received their education here.

In fact, that’s a pretty good idea: anyone who has a high school diploma from an American school should be allowed to sit for the driver’s test and receive a license. That way, we can make life a bit easier for people who are undocumented through no fault of their own, while not accommodating conscientious lawbreakers.

Illinois legislators will probably pass a law in the next month or so granting at least some kind of driver’s license to the undocumented.

And Springfield providing DREAMers the chance to be licensed drivers will give me one more reason to be a proud Illinoisan.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. all of a sudden the government is being so nice……hmmmm..

  2. Who knew that by simply voting you could make the government do things?

  3. Throw names in a fishbowl and see which lucky name each one gets.. pathetic!

  4. Really 11yrs to come around huh? I wouldn’t forget those legislators’ names.

  5. Hey, I have an idea, why just not deport illegal law breakers! And leave the roads to Americans born here, and legal naturalized immigrants, and people with visas, and people with international drivers licenses! I wonder if Mexico or other nations do this to people who reside there illegally. Don’t coddle law breakers and now you want to start another state program that will cost tax payer monies when things are not going well financially? Where is this money going to come from?

  6. no good can come of this

  7. Last I checked, Mario, people have to pay for licenses and insurance. I think they call that “revenue.”

  8. And yes, Mario, let’s start comparing the United States to Mexico. Some patriot.

  9. Mario is Anti-Latino always has, and always will be.

  10. This whole “lets deport all undocumented people” mentality needs to stop. That horse has al ready been beat to death. It’s NEVER going to happen! There is no way you are going to round upon the millions of undocumented people and send them all back where they came from. (I’m not even gonna go into the issues of what would happen with all the us born children with undocumented parents). People are gonna drive with or with out a license. So better they have a license than not.

  11. Illegal scofflaws here in violation of our immigration laws, taking jobs from legal blue collar United States citizens of all ethnic backgrounds in this tough economy, getting drunk and killing us on our highways and shamelessly sucking our hard earned tax dollars like black holes! If you want illegal invaders to have drivers licenses make their home nations pay for them at a profit to us. Or have Mexico give us annually a set number of their oil – lets say a set number of barrels per illegal interloper. The other nations can do the same for their nationals that want to live here illegally.

  12. Has anyone ever told you that you look like a middle eastern suicide bomber? No but seriously, thank god no politician is stupid enough to adopt your oil barrels policy. You’re a fucking idiot.

  13. Thanks for your wonderful comments David- you should thank your parents for teaching you wonderful manners in your up bringing. Hey, it’s a thought, and all ideas whether good, so so, and bad should be discussed here. But seriously, if Mexico wants its citizens to come here (because Mexican presidents always seem so concerned about their nationals living here when they complain to American presidents on how “bad” illegals are treated here) that nations like Mexico should either stop the flow or compensate us somehow. Fair is fair and illegal is still illegal no matter how much of a human face you try to put on it. It’s like you seem to fool the United States into giving you little inches here and there but you really want to take miles from us! Drivers licenses for illegals? What next – full amnesty? Because as we know, that’s what you all want-even at the expense of honest foreign nationals that are following all the rules and trying to come here legally through the required process. First of all, a drivers license is not a right, it’s a privilege.

  14. We should not reward law breakers (yes, they might be good people and work hard) with drivers licenses. Come here legally and follow the rules, learn English, and assimilate and welcome and you can have your driver’s licenses and a whole lot more!

  15. FYI: the dude in the pic is not me, it’s a yoga guru. He’s not a terrorist.

  16. What many fail to realize is driving in this country is a privelage not a right. Prior to 9/11 many illegals were afforded the privelage to a driver’s license in many states, as hard that is to believe to many of you. 9/11 caused many states to rethink this policy because of lack of security keeping up with the borders and for fear of more terrosist sneaking into the country. Has anyone ever mistaken a latino with an Arab or vice versa? I know David Cruz has. Many people just do not understand the financial strain this causes on many local and state governments. It has been my experience that many illegals have been able to obtain several diffrent licenses under differerent names,from difreent states. I am for issuing government issued ID’s first. Then once that person can establish himself as an tax paying upstanding memeber to society, then he may have the privelage to obtain a license. But to just start handuing out driver;s licenese like they were bumber stickers is careless and irresponsible…

  17. People like David Cruz don’t realize they are the ones with the tired old ideas, not the right. The right actually wants you to thrive. The left are hipster doofus’ creating an old bureaucracy. You won’t realize it until it’s too late. It’s hilarious how the left has been able to get young people to actually think it’s hip and cool to be boring drones who never think for themselves. Just boring drones with dribble down their chin waiting for the next hand out.

  18. Hey Alan Guerra-OceanviewPoms how can it be anti-latino to want your people to thrive? Not sit on your thumb and wait for shit. I’m so sick of latinos being so stupid and letting themselves be used. Can you put one original thought in your head?? It is anti-Latino to be so damn helpless. That’s what the left proposes for you. Wake up.

  19. Too long; didn’t read.

  20. Saw my name mentioned a few times. Thanks for the attention, faggots.

  21. Are you sure you’re a Liberal???? You sound like one of them bigoted Republicans…

  22. Next thing Obama will give illegals I are gun licenses! Not for us though! He needs his Latino storm troopers to keep the Dems in power!

  23. David, you are one vulgar dude. Typical Democratsocialist “by whatever means necessary” mentality! Hey, I thought Dems didn’t use such “homophobic” words!

  24. Haha mario do you just copy and paste your comments ll over bl? Lol,

  25. No I don’t copy and paste my comments it’s just that BL editorial content is so predictable and cliche that you can’t help but repeat the same arguments. Not all Latinos are concerned with immigration issues. That’s a myth the Dems push!

  26. roxana stachura says:

    Legal or illegal they are driving. A license would be a good idea.

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