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Editorial: Chinatown driver’s license scam begs for law

Illinois Gov. PQuinn. | File photo

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. | File photo

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Updated: January 12, 2013 6:12AM



If people need to drive but can’t legally obtain proper documentation, they’ll often resort to illegal methods.

A story in Monday’s Sun-Times by Frank Main reported that thousands of immigrants are suspected of obtaining driver’s licenses through a Chinatown fraud ring between 2003 and 2008. Many of those immigrants faked the written test and didn’t even take the road test, says the FBI.

The danger here is clear and present: Drivers who don’t have to pass any test and who aren’t allowed to buy insurance are a threat to everyone else on the highway.

Legislation already passed by the state Senate and pending in the House — with Republican leadership support — would offer an alternative for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants believed to be driving on Illinois roads. The House should pass the bill and send it to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it.

The bill would allow illegal immigrants to get temporary visitor driver’s licenses, which already are available for foreign students, spouses and children of temporary workers, long-term workers and others who are here legally but don’t have the Social Security numbers needed to obtain a regular driver’s license. The IDs are similar to regular driver’s licenses but have purple backgrounds instead of red.

Opponents of the measure say it sends the wrong message to reward people who have broken immigration laws.

But if the legislation encourages illegal immigrants to undergo driver training so they can pass the same vision, written and road tests as anyone else, that would make Illinois’ roads safer. And it would also allow the immigrants to buy insurance.

Illegal immigrants with the licenses would have less reason to leave the scene of an accident. Health-care providers could more easily ID patients. Fewer people would be deported after a routine traffic stop.

This bill deserves a green light.



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