CHICAGO - Sunday afternoon, Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that made Illinois the fourth and most populous state that allows illegal residents to obtain a license to drive. Quinn was joined under the stage banner "Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights" by Democrat State Senator John Cullerton and Republican House Leader Tom Cross. Cullerton pointed out that the effort was bi-partisan, and he hoped more "bi-partisan" solutions could be found for Illinois' challenges.
One of the challenges the Republicans and Democrats may end up working together on may be the very bill that was signed into law Sunday. Waiting until the day after the bill was signed into law, the State Journal Register mentioned fraud problems other states are having with their licensure law:
An Associated Press investigation last year found a striking pattern in New Mexico, suggesting immigrants tried to game the system to obtain a license. In one instance, 48 foreign-born individuals claimed to live at a smoke shop in Albuquerque to fulfill a residency condition.
Authorities also busted a fraud ring last year that forged documents for illegal immigrants to use after driving from as far as Illinois and North Carolina to obtain a New Mexico license. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed for years to repeal the decade-old measure, but the Legislature has rejected such efforts.
Washington's requirements attracted national attention when Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, revealed his illegal immigration status in an essay for the New York Times Magazine in 2011. Vargas chronicled how he obtained his Washington license. State authorities conducted an investigation that revealed Vargas did not reside at the address he stated in his application and canceled his license.
New Mexico is backtracking on its licensure proceedings.