Activists Angry With Slow Pace Of Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

CHICAGO (CBS) — Some immigrants’ rights groups are upset about how long it takes for undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses in Illinois, under a program that started one year ago.

WBBM Newsradio’s Cisco Cotto reports Erendira Rendon, with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said it’s too difficult for someone to schedule an appointment to apply for a temporary visitor’s license.

“People have to make an appointment either by calling in the morning at 9 a.m., or going online at 9 a.m., and that’s resulting in appointments six months from now, on top of which many times people have to drive all the way to Carbondale or to Springfield,” she said.

Rendon said the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has options to speed up the process.

“Such as shifting some of their employees to work in the larger metropolitan area,” she said.

Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker said doing that would not be easy.

“The employees who work at the Department of Motor Vehicles are union employees, and there are all kinds of factors that have to be met. This is an unfunded mandate from the state of Illinois, so we need to find money in the budget to be able to do some of the things that people are talking about,” he said.

Rendon said the delays in issuing licenses are disrespectful.

“I think if everybody were to ask themselves if they would be okay with this, if they didn’t have a driver’s license, and had to wait six months just to get an appointment if you’re lucky, and then if you do get it to have to probably drive all the way down to Springfield, I don’t think anybody would be okay with that,” she said.

Druker said people need to realize Illinois is the largest state in the nation with such a program, the number of people applying for licenses has been far higher than expected.

“When the legislation was passed, the figure that we were given was a quarter of a million people that would be eligible for this. Frankly, we’re probably looking at closer to half a million,” he said.

Druker also said the state has been getting good feedback from undocumented immigrants who did get licenses.

“The average person who comes into the DMV, and is getting the TDL, they seem delighted is the feedback we’ve got. They’re very pleased,” he said.

He stressed the department has been working hard to improve by making the licenses available adding additional offices to ease delays.

“We’ve moved from 25 facilities to 36 facilities where they now do the testing,” he said.

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