The Illinois House of Representatives today voted to grant temporary drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, the final legislative step before Democratic Governor 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 vote in the General Assembly or 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 migrants to driving tests.
Republican opposition to drivers licenses for illegal immigrants faded after the Nov. 6 election when Hispanics voted heavily for the reelection of President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Illinois state legislature.
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.