Chicago, Illinois, December 5, 20120 - Illinois Republican leaders joined together Tuesday for a press conference to support a bill (SB957) to permit 250,000 illegal immigrants to receive state-issued driver’s licenses.
Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogo (R-Lemont), House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), Illinois comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, and former Gov. Jim Edgar were in attendance.
The press conference question and answer period with reporters was quickly shut-down after media grilled Illinois lawmakers about the bill’s specific provisions and whether, given Illinois’ history of corruption on driver’s licenses, lawmakers can even be trusted to administer such a program.
The upshot: Illinois lawmakers admitted during the news conference there were “no guarantees” illegal immigrants would buy the required car insurance, which proponents said was the stated basis of the legislation.
When reporters continued to probe the legislation’s insurance gap, Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights side-stepped the issue.
“We’ve been working in good faith to try to put together this legislation, if there are other issues that need to be raised, we are certainly open to it and are working in good faith with all the respective parties for legislation that can work.”
More double talk.
According to the Highway Safety Coalition – the pro-amnesty front group that spearheaded SB 957 - uninsured illegal immigrants are the cause of 80,000 crashes a year in Illinois.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is in a bitter fight to repeal a similar law that permits driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, citing security and fraud concerns. Data from the Insurance Research Council shows that in 2000, just before the law took effect, 26.3% of drivers in New Mexico were uninsured. In 2010, after seven years, New Mexico still had 25.7% of drivers uninsured.
So are Illinois lawmakers misleading the public on this legislation?
Illinois already has a sordid history when it comes to issuing driver's licenses.
Former Gov. George Ryan is currently serving prison time for racketing, tax evasion, and conspiracy for his role in a driver’s license for bribes kickback scheme in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. 80 other Illinois officials were ultimately indicted for their participation in a scheme that allowed state employees to ‘rig’ driver’s licenses exams, enabling unqualified applicants – including illegal immigrants – to pass the test.
In 1994, Ricardo Guzman, an illegally licensed truck driver, caused the deaths of the six Willis children in a horrific car crash near the Wisconsin border and a federal investigation ensued.
SB957 passed the Illinois state senate by a vote of 41-14 Tuesday afternoon and is on its way to the house for consideration.