Powerful Politicians Back Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

A who's who of powerful Illinois politicians from both parties teamed up Tuesday to support a plan that would give driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and former Illinois governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson among others gathered to show their support -- to much applause in the room -- of "legislation that requires all Illinois drivers to get licensed and insured."

"Immigration reform is a bipartisan issue," Emanuel said, "and that should be the one lesson that came out of the election, the importance of immigration reform for the future of this country."

Under the plan, drivers would get three-year licenses. They would have to take driver's ed and carry car insurance. Lawmakers believe there are as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants on Illinois roads and that more than 40 percent of deadly Illinois crashes involve drivers who don't have a license.

"It is a piece of legislation that is morally fair, economically sound and politically smart," Edgar said.

"Many days are called historic," Quinn said. "This one actually is, and I think it's important that we understand that saving lives on the highway is one of our highest callings in government."

Last week 28 Chicago aldermen signed a resolution supporting the bill that would give undocumented immigrants the chance to have a license.

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