IL - Area sheriffs oppose licenses for illegal immigrants
By JOHN REYNOLDS
The State Journal-Register
Posted Dec 01, 2012 @ 10:00 PM
A proposal to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses is not getting much support from area sheriffs.
Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson, Montgomery County Sheriff Jim Vazzi and Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp all said they oppose to the idea.
“They are illegally in this country and we are giving them permission to drive on our highways?” Williamson said.
“It doesn’t seem right that we are giving a driver’s license to somebody who is in our country illegally,” Kettelkamp said.
The Illinois Senate is expected to consider a bill this week that would allow illegal immigrants to get drivers’ licenses. Supporters say the plan would make the roads safer, since the immigrants would have to pass a test to get the license, and they would then be able to buy insurance.
There are as many as 225,000 illegal immigrants in the state who can’t get drivers’ licenses or insurance. Uninsured immigrant drivers cause $64 million in damage each year, which is covered by increased premiums paid by other drivers.
The three sheriffs, however, don’t think the availability of licenses would help uninsured motorists.
“I really don’t think this will make them follow the laws and become that model citizen,” Vazzi said.
Williamson stressed that his opposition to the plan is not racially motivated.
“I’m all for immigration. I’m all for people coming to this country and having the chance to become an American. But I want them to have the proper documentation and go through the proper channels to be a citizen. Then they can get a driver’s license,” Williamson said.
The Senate proposal would make illegal immigrants eligible for temporary licenses. The licenses, created in 2005, already go to some foreign-born visitors.
“The legislature makes the laws and we follow them. I’ll follow whatever law there is,” Vazzi said.