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Mexican Consulate Stops In Urbana As Immigrants Prepare To Get Driver’s Licenses

People wait at the Urbana Civic Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 to get their passports through the Mexican Consulate.

People wait at the Urbana Civic Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 to get their passports through the Mexican Consulate. (Sean Powers/WILL)

Officials from the Mexican Consulate in Chicago were at the Urbana Civic Center this week connecting many undocumented immigrants with a passport and photo ID - documents they will need in order to apply for a driver's license in Illinois.

In a few months, undocumented immigrants in the state will be able to obtain a driver’s license thanks to legislation signed into law this year. 

Aida Avila of Crystal Lake, Ill. arrived in the United States from Mexico 18 years, and she showed up to meet with consulate officials. She said she needs a license so that she can get to work.

“This is going to be a real and important help to us,” Avila said in Spanish. “Because we're immigrants, traffic tickets can get really expensive. And sometimes we don't make enough to pay them.”

Lucia Maldonado, who organized the consulate’s visit to Urbana, said the agency only sees people by appointment, and that many of the 1,200 people who were supposed to show up did not.

“And a lot of people here locally from Champaign-Urbana were not able to get appointments, so we have people who keep calling, asking if there are appointments available, and we don’t have any appointments,” Maldonado explained.

According to the Illinois Secretary of State's office, undocumented immigrants can begin scheduling appointments in November to take the driver’s license test, but no date has been set for when those licenses will be available.

Categories: Government, Law