News Local/State

Immigrant Rights Groups: Demand Outstrips Slots For Driver’s Licenses


Immigrant rights groups say Illinois needs to improve its program for issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The program started last December.

When Illinois created a special drivers license for people without permission to be in the country, supporters said it would make the roads safer. In order to get one, an applicant has to have auto insurance and pass a driving test.

As of the end of September, more than 64,600 people had succeeded. But activists like Martin Torres, with the Latino Policy Forum, say others are being held up.

Applicants for a temporary visitor driver's license (or TVDL) need an appointment; and Torres says often, none are available.

"People are waiting months to get an appointment, and it can be discouraging," he said.

Immigrant rights groups held a rally in Chicago last week to pressure Sec. of State Jesse White to take action. But White says the process is working well.

"We believe that using the appointment system is a lot better," White said. "When you go to see your doctor, you have an appointment. When you go see your dentist, you have an appointment."

Appointments are only available at certain facilities (the number of which has been expanded since the law first took effect), and the backlog is reportedly worst in the Chicago area.

White, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican Mike Webster.