Following the lead of several other states, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is working to approve legislation aimed at improving the driver’s license issuance process to immigrant motorists.
Giannoulias’ office has partnered with stakeholders and lawmakers to craft House Bill 3882, which passed the Illinois House of Representatives last week. It calls for replacing Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (TVDLs) with a 4-year standard driver’s license, with the wording “Federal Limits Apply” printed along top of the cards in accordance with the federal REAL ID Act. The wording, “Not Valid for Identification,” which currently exists on TVDLs, would no longer appear.
“This legislation will make our roads safer and protects immigrants who are legally able to drive,” said Secretary Giannoulias. “As with all drivers, immigrants who drive in Illinois must prove they are safe, capable motorists in order to earn the standard driver’s license.”
Giannoulias noted that under the current system, TVDLs often signal that those drivers are likely undocumented and that they could not be used for identification purposes.
HB 3882, sponsored by State Representative Barbara Hernandez (50th District – Aurora), passed the House on a vote of 67-35 and now heads to the State Senate for consideration. State Sen. Ram Villivalam (8th District – Chicago) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate chamber. If HB 3882 becomes law, Illinois would join numerous states with similar processes, including California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York Oregon and Colorado.
The legislation also establishes standard, non-REAL ID compliant ID cards for immigrants, and will restrict the sharing of driver data by prohibiting the use of data for immigration enforcement purposes unless immigration agents provide a court-issued warrant, order, or subpoena to request the personally identifying information.
In Illinois, undocumented immigrants must pass a driving test and prove they have auto insurance before they can get a TVDL. In addition, they must provide a passport or consular card to prove name and date of birth, and documents proving they’ve lived in Illinois at least a year. Giannoulias’ office has implemented additional safeguards to ensure TVDL drivers would not be eligible for a REAL ID and cannot be added to the voting rolls.
More than 300,000 people currently have a TVDL – a program first implemented 10 years ago with bipartisan support to make roads safer because of the road-testing requirements.