Immigrant driver’s certificates came further than ever this year; Immigrant supporters express disappointment with Senate President Emil Jones and Republican Senate
SPRINGFIELD—HB 1100, the Roadway Safety and Mandatory Insurance Act, was placed on postponed consideration today and held to the November veto session. The legislation would allow immigrant drivers without Social Security numbers to apply for driver’s certificates, take a roadway safety test, and purchase auto insurance. HB 1100 is sponsored by State Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-2) and State Senator Tony Muñoz (D-1).
“This is a bitter disappointment, because we were so close, but this year this common sense bill has advanced further than ever
before,” said Salvador Cervantes, a board member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “Senator Jones did not deliver the two votes we needed, did not deliver on his commitment to the immigrant community.”
Immigrant advocates also blasted the Republican Senators who flip-flopped on their support for the Roadway Safety Act. “After the work done during this session we hope that when we come back in the fall, the Republicans will recognize the needs of their immigrant voters and come to their senses by showing support for HB1100,” said Lawrence Benito, Associate Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “Republicans will be the minority down here for a long time if they continue to deny the demographic reality of their fast-changing districts.” Republican Senators Watson, Sieben, and Radogno voted for the measure in committee, but later changed their votes.
HB 1100 passed the Illinois House in March. This is the first time the measure has passed either Chamber of the State legislature. Governor Blagojevich has announced he will sign the bill when it passes. “We were within a vote or two of passing this legislation out of the Senate, and it is a shame for immigrants and for all of Illinois that Senate President Jones let the end-of-session politics get in the way of passing the most important priority for the immigrant community. Plus, not one Republican Senator had the courage to stand up to the anti-undocumented backlash. We ran out of time,” said Josh Hoyt, Executive Director of ICIRR. “Illinois and the nation need to accept that there are millions of hardworking immigrants without documents who are fueling our economy and we need legislators with the courage to work towards reasonable solutions for our immigration problems.”
When HB 1100 passes, the savings for the average Illinois auto insurance policy holder may reach as high as $85. An estimated 250,000 immigrant drivers in Illinois do not have Social Security numbers and therefore cannot get driver’s licenses or auto insurance. These uninsured drivers are involved in an estimated 76,000 accidents each year causing $630 million in damage claims. Many of these immigrants drive on U.S. roads in order to work. An estimated 70% of these workers pay taxes through tax-identification numbers.
HB 1100 has the support of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as former Governor Jim Edgar, Mayor Richard Daley, Catholic Cardinal Francis George, the Illinois AFL-CIO, and dozens of other elected officials, police chiefs, judges, bar associations, insurance agencies, businesses and other organizations.
Numerous law enforcement associations, sheriffs, and police chiefs support the Roadway Safety Act, including Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupus, Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson, and the Police Chiefs of such Illinois cities as Springfield, Danville, Champaign, Joliet, Kankakee, Cicero, Mt. Prospect, Bolingbrook, and Mundelein.
Under the language of HB 1100, the Roadway Safety and Mandatory Insurance Coverage Act will allow immigrants without Social Security numbers to learn the rules of the road, pass driving tests, and obtain auto insurance. Certificates would be visually distinct from regular state-issued driver’s licenses and would be invalid as identification to buy a firearm, get on a plane, or enter a Federal building. Applicants would have to present a valid passport, a taxpayer identification number, proof of Illinois residence, and agree to be fingerprinted and photographed to obtain a driver’s certificate. The program would not cost taxpayers anything as the applicants will pay a surcharge for the certificate of at least $50.
“We will come back in the fall to pass it in the Senate when we hope that legislators put roadway safety first. In the meantime we will work to pass sensible immigration reform at the national level,” said Hoyt.