CHICAGO
11/20/2012 01:18 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2012

Illinois Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Pushed By Prominent Political Leaders

A bipartisan coalition of Illinois' most powerful political leaders gathered at Chicago's Roosevelt High School Tuesday morning to express their support for granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in Illinois.

Among the group were both Democrats -- Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton -- and Republicans -- former governors Jim Edgar and James Thompson -- who argued that a plan requiring all the state's drivers to register for driver's licenses and insurance would help make the state's roads safer, NBC Chicago reports.

According to Cullerton's office, about 250,000 undocumented immigrant drivers are estimated to currently live in the state, but are not currently able to register for driver's licenses or insurance, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Unlicensed drivers reportedly are involved in 42 percent of all fatal crashes statewide.

Missing in action among the Tuesday coalition of political leaders were the state's two Republican legislative leaders, House Minority Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. A Cross spokeswoman told the Sun-Times that the House Republican caucus has yet to discuss the proposal.

Last week, 28 members of Chicago's City Council signed onto a resolution urging the state legislature to allow undocumented Illinoisans to apply for driver's licenses. Emanuel is a vocal proponent of the push, which could extend the state's existing Temporary Visitor Driver License program to the undocumented as part of the mayor's push to make Chicago "the most immigrant-friendly in the country," Crain's reports.

"I think it’s a question of safety from all our people in Illinois," Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said of the proposal, WBEZ reported. "Those people need to have a driver's license so they can have insurance so that when they are on our highways, and possibly get into an accident, everybody’s protected."

The proposal, which is being drafted in the state Senate, could come up for a vote in Springfield as early as January.

Both Washington state and New Mexico require undocumented drivers to get licenses, according to the Sun-Times. Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing some undocumented immigrants -- those eligible for work permits under a new Obama administration policy -- to apply for licenses.

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