The right to drive through owning a legal license is an important part of every American citizen's life. Even those who do not drive themselves frequently rely on the ability of friends and family members to get both across town and across the country on our streets, highways, and interstates.
For the country's undocumented immigrants, however, the prospect of driving is riddled with difficult and often dangerous decisions. Driving without a license, insurance, and proper immigration papers may be the only means of getting to work or ailing family members, but the act puts one at risk for serious legal trouble if authorities become somehow involved.
Earlier this month another state ratified measures to grant undocumented immigrants the right to a provisional driver's license, becoming the fourth to do so. Illinois lawmakers, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel and state Governor Pat Quinn, along with numerous activists touted the bill as a clear victory for public safety and immigrant's rights.
Many, including a number of local law officers, have aired concerns over the potential for identity fraud and abuse of the new privileges by immigrants, who will have to undergo driver's training courses and provide proof of insurance before being granted a driver's license. Supporters of the measure, however, have pointed to the state's highly advanced facial recognition technology.
The driver's rights expansion comes as a follow-up to the 2010 passing of Illinois's own Dream Act, which instituted a privately-funded scholarship program for immigrant students seeking a college education.
While the bill is a clear victory for road safety and immigrants' rights, its long-term effects on the state remain to be seen. Similar measures may soon come to South Carolina, and any person who may be unsure of their rights as an immigrant should contact an attorney versed in immigration law.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Illinois Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Bill Signed Into Law Sunday," Regina Garcia Cano and Michelle Janaye Nealy, Jan. 27, 2013