CHICAGO – The state of Illinois issued 14,000 temporary drivers licenses to undocumented foreigners in two months, which, if that rate of demand is maintained, could double the number of licenses expected to be handed out during the first year of the law that allowed it.
The spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of State, Ernesto Martinez, told Efe on Thursday that the high demand could force the government to open new license issue locations in the second half of the year, which would be added to the 36 currently in operation.
“The numbers are impressive. We’ve attended to 24,000 people and granted 14,000 licenses, most of them at the 23 offices operating in Chicago and its metropolitan area,” he said.
Each day, between 20,000 and 30,000 requests for licenses are received by telephone and an average of 4,000 appointments are made for the written and driving exams, according to figures provided by Martinez.
However, authorities are concerned with the high percentage of rejections due to lack of documentation, of people who have unresolved cases for traffic offenses or who have driven with false licenses.
In the latter case, the traffic law establishes that a person, once his or her identity has been verified, has to complete a year of obligatory driving suspension.
“This is not an immigration problem as some activists criticize, but an administrative sanction what is applied to all those who falsify a document, whether or not they have papers,” he said.
When the law was approved in January 2013, it was calculated that there were some 250,000 people driving without licenses in Illinois, of whom 90 percent were of Mexican origin.
However, the Office of the Secretary of State prepared itself to attend to some 500,000 people who could request the document.
The temporary licenses that undocumented people receive are the same ones that are issued for three years to diplomats, relatives of businessmen, artists and athletes who live temporarily in the United States without a Social Security Number.
They are used only to drive, are not valid as an identification document and also do not provide any immigration benefits.