Illinois driver’s licenses issued to undocumented immigrants

A new state law in Illinois has granted more than 1,200 driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, according to a spokesperson from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. These licenses fall under the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDLs) category. That means they are legal documents permitting immigrants living in Illinois to drive whether they are on a path to citizenship already or not. Individuals like spouses or children of temporary workers, long-term visitors, and international students are some examples of immigrants that cannot receive a Social Security Number. These people used to be the only ones who were eligible for TVDLs. Under the new law, however, undocumented immigrants can now apply.

The licenses cannot be used as identification to purchase a firearm, board a plane or vote. Undocumented immigrants who have TVDLs must reapply as a new applicant after three years. In addition, their license looks slightly different from the standard citizen’s license, as it has a purple stripe. Some applicants have been concerned that their undocumented status would be indicated on their new license, but that isn’t the case. These cards can be issued to visa holders who are unable to obtain a Social Security number, so the colored stripe is the only distinction that indicates the license cannot be used as identification for anything other than driving.

The licenses cost $30, and more than 30,000 undocumented immigrants living in Illinois have applied for them. Just like applicants for traditional driver’s licenses, undocumented motorists are required to pass a written, vision and driving test in order to receive the license, as well as obtain auto insurance. Currently, tests are available at 14 locations in Illinois, although by the end of January 2014, 36 locations will offer driving tests.

Advocates of this new law have argued that allowing undocumented immigrants to receive a driver’s license will make the roads safer by requiring them to take a test and have auto insurance.