A bill to authorize driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Illinois was approved on Monday by a legislative committee and is now ready to be voted on by the full lower House, although the support of certain Republican lawmakers is still being solicited.
In the House, 60 votes will be needed to pass the bill and, for the present, that tally has not been confirmed, Monica Treviño, spokesperson with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told Efe by telephone from Springfield, the state capital.
The Senate approved the bill last month by a vote of 41-14.
ICIRR and other groups who have lobbied in favor of the bill since September are focusing the vote negotiations on the need to improve highway safety.
"We've tried to avoid making it an immigration matter to avoid resistance," said Democratic lawmaker Lisa Hernandez.
She said that several undecided legislators had been satisfied when their doubts were laid to rest, and although they did not commit themselves to voting for it the lawmaker said she was optimistic about Tuesday's House session.
The speaker of the lower house, Democrat Michael Madigan, on Tuesday received hundreds of cards demanding approval of the bill filled out by immigrants who attended a Sunday Mass in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel participated in the Mass and urged the faithful to telephone their legislators to make their voices heard in the final push to pass the bill.
The measure, which Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn promised to sign immediately, will authorize undocumented immigrants to receive temporary visitors' driver's licenses, a document that has been provided since 2005 by the Secretary of State to foreigners who live temporarily in Illinois and do not have Social Security Numbers.
This license is a different color from the regular licenses and cannot be used as identification to board airplanes, buy weapons or to vote.
Applicants will have to have lived in Illinois for at least three years, must present an identity document from their country of origin and pass the tests certifying their ability to drive.
It is estimated that some 80,000 accidents per year are caused by undocumented immigrants driving without a license in Illinois. EFE