August 16, 2013

Locals gear up to help immigrants get driver’s licenses

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A list of acceptable documents needed to get a driver's license under current state law.

File Photo/llinois Secretary of State

A list of acceptable documents needed to get a driver's license under current state law.

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess — Community groups are working this month and next to help local immigrants get a driver’s license after a new bill was signed into law earlier this year.

In January, Illinois became the fourth state to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. The three-year, temporary license will become available in October.

To help locals prepare, Mi Raza Community Center will be hosting a presentation on the  new state program at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27 at the Arcola Center in Arcola. (See flyer here.)

And between Sept. 10 to 14, the Mexican Consulate will be at the Urbana Civic Center to provide passports and identification cards to Mexican citizens. Appointments for services are required. (See flyer here.)

“This year’s visit is extremely important because undocumented individuals in (Illinois) interested in obtaining the new driver’s license will need a passport or ID card to do so,” wrote Lucia Maldonado to an email listserv.

See our past coverage of the issue:

Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants debated – by Sean Powers/Illinois Public Radio

There are only a handful of places that Urbana resident Marcela Guillen will drive to – the fast-food restaurant where she works, to buy groceries and to take her two children to the doctor.

“I would really like to go to other places but I can’t because I don’t have a driver’s license,” Guillen said through an interpreter.

Pulitzer-prize journalist talks immigration, life as an undocumented resident – by Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess

For journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, a driver’s license meant working for the Washington Post – a job he really wanted.

The license was required.

For the 12 million or so undocumented workers, a driver’s license is necessary — to get to the grocery store, to drive kids to school, to live, Vargas told the audience last night. He said he was advocating, “that the people who built this country be given a process to say ‘I’m here, I’m not an enemy.””