Recently, a new law was proposed in Illinois (S.B. 957) that would allow Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses to be issued to those who lack legal immigration status.
The bill (S.B. 957) has been passed in the Senate. It must now be passed in the House of Representatives and signed by the Illinois governor before it can become law. Illinois State Representatives are expected to vote on this bill TOMORROW, January 3, 2013.
If the Illinois State Representatives do not vote on this by January 3, 2013, then on January 9th, the new General Assembly comes into office, and the process will start over.
** IF YOU ARE A U.S. CITIZEN AND ILLINOIS RESIDENT, you can contact your state representative and encourage him or her to support the bill.**
(To find out who your state representative is, call (202) 224-3121.)
Proposed requirements to obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver’s license:
Valid passport from home country
Proof of residence in the U.S. for the past year
Must obtain car insurance after obtaining the license, or the license will become invalid
Complete a vision test, in addition to written and driving tests
Will the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License for undocumented persons be any different from the Regular Driver’s Licenses?
Yes. TVDLs will have a purple background instead of the blue or red backgrounds that regular Illinois driver’s licenses have.
In addition, they will state “TVDL” (temporary visitor’s driver’s license)at the top, next to the words “Not Valid for Identification.”
They will not be valid for identification purposes, unlike regular driver’s licenses.
They will be valid for three years only, instead of the standard 4 years for regular driver’s licenses.
Won’t a police officer know that a person presenting a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License is undocumented?
Yes, probably. Typically, TVDLs will be issued to those who are here without legal immigration status or those who entered legally but whose visa is short-term and temporary.
Does that mean that TVDL holders will still be at risk of being arrested by the police and passed into Immigration custody?
This is difficult to answer because it depends.
It is necessary for Illinois police officers to have a valid reason to arrest a person, aside from his or her immigration status. Residing or driving without legal immigration status is not a crime in the state of Illinois.
However, it is true that in Illinois in recent years, many individuals have ended up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after being arrested for driving without a license, which is a valid reason for arrest.
Other valid, non-immigration-related reasons for arrest include: the officer suspects that the person has been drinking and driving; the officer finds illegal weapons or drugs during a search of the car; the person resists arrest or gives false information to the police officer.
Thus, if a police officer finds a valid, non-immigration-related reason to arrest a TVDL holder, then yes, he or she will be arrested, and yes, after this arrest, it is still possible for the police to notify ICE and then transfer the individual into ICE custody.
In sum, possessing a TVDL should not make an undocumented driver more vulnerable than he or she was when he or she was driving without a license; in fact, having a valid TVDL at least removes one reason for arrest.
However, having a TVDL does not and cannot provide complete protection against being transferred to ICE custody if the officer has another valid reason for arrest.
Will it be a problem if a person wants to obtain a TVDL, but in the past, he or she obtained a driver’s license with a different name or social security number?
Yes, this will be a problem.
The technology used to produce the TVDL will have a facial recognition feature. That means that if the applicant has had a driver’s license in the past under another name or with another social security number, his or her face will be recognized, and the Secretary of State will conclude that this person gave false information to get a driver’s license.
Such a person will not be allowed to obtain this new TVDL. In addition, there is a possibility that the person could be charged with the crime of fraud or identity theft under Illinois law.
** Therefore, we strongly encourage people in this situation to consult with an attorney who provides advice and defense in Secretary of State matters BEFORE applying for a TVDL. **
What will the renewal process be?
Unknown. The bill does not include these details.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.