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posted: 1/3/2013 5:00 AM

We should encourage licensed driving

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The question of immigration reform is an emotional and difficult one, and one in which the federal government must play the lead role.

As a nation, we must secure our borders, and we must provide a wider door to citizenship to those who come to our country legally. As a state, we must also recognize the cost to society of an estimated 250,000 undocumented, uninsured and untested immigrant drivers on Illinois' roadways.

With the recent legislation to extend the current Illinois temporary visitors driver's licenses to the undocumented immigration population, Illinois is offering another response to the lack of action from the federal government.

It doesn't allow the license holder to use that license as identification to register to vote, board an airplane or purchase a firearm. It requires undocumented immigrants to prove their identity, be tested and purchase insurance to drive legally on our streets and highways.

Because of the agreed statutory language to prevent the use of the licenses for identification, we believe this specific bill is a reasoned response to a challenge facing Illinois today.

Untested, uninsured immigrants are driving today, and those drivers cost $64 million annually in uninsured damage claims that other policy holders must cover. In 2011, 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois involved an unlicensed driver. In Lake County, for instance, 28 percent of all motorists booked for traffic offenses in the last year were undocumented immigrants who could not get licenses, burdening our public safety system.

Our goal is not to encourage more illegal immigration to Illinois but to promote safe driving. Testing, training, licensing and insuring undocumented immigrants will lead to improved highway safety and ultimately lower vehicle insurance rates for Illinois motorists.

State Sen. Bill Brady

Bloomington

Sheriff Mark Curran

Lake County

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