Support temporary immigrant licenses
This Thanksgiving, as we gratefully reflect on the year's blessings -- loving family, warm home, safe journeys, food-a-plenty -- we may recall our nation's 17th century immigration story in which Pilgrims traveled to, arrived at, and built a new life in a foreign land, with help from its native citizens.
With thanksgiving heart and pilgrim spirit, this letter urges everyone to contact their representative and senator in the Illinois General Assembly asking them to provide the opportunity for immigrants to receive temporary visitor driver's licenses. Approximately 250,000 Illinois immigrant drivers cannot get a license because they are ineligible to apply for and receive Social Security numbers. Changing current law to allow immigrants to use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as an alternative to SSN would improve public safety, save all drivers money, and keep families together. Consider these benefits:
• Improved public safety: Immigrants would need to take and pass the driver's test. Unlicensed motorists nationwide are five times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than licensed drivers.
• Reduced insurance premiums for everyone. If only 50 percent of unlicensed immigrant drivers obtain insurance, cost of an individual policy would be reduced by greater than $59 per year.
• Decreased need for and cost of public services for children left alone when their undocumented parents, otherwise law-abiding members of the community, have been stopped for a simple traffic violation; this often leads to deportation proceedings. At least 5,100 children whose parents have been either detained or deported now live in foster care.
As a person of faith, and pastor of St. John United Church of Christ, Aurora, I am called to love my neighbor, welcome the stranger and work for justice. I call on the Illinois legislature to provide the opportunity for immigrants to obtain temporary visitor driver's licenses.
Rev. Cyndi Gavin