The signing of a bill Sunday allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses attracted dozens of potential motorists and a pack of top Illinois politicians, all eager to tout their role in legislation many see as a precursor to comprehensive immigration reform that could create a windfall of new citizens, and voters.
In addition to Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle constituted a fraction of elected officials who occupied a podium for 75 minutes at a Little Village community center. Republican leaders Tom Cross and Christine Radogno were there as well.
“Today the family of Illinois celebrates the passage of an important law that will make our roads safer,” said Quinn. A mariachi band began playing moments after Quinn, using 28 separate commemorative pens, signed the bill, which calls for licenses to begin being issued Oct. 1.
Carmen Castillo, 52, witnessed the event and plans to apply for a license. She looks forward to finally being able to relax behind the wheel instead of constantly being afraid of the police. Her first joy ride will be to church, to thank God for the bill.
“My children could sense my fear when they were little and I was driving,” said Castillo, who immigrated from Mexico to Bolingbrook, where she works as a restaurant cook. “I was afraid to put them in activities like soccer and gymnastics because of the driving,” said Castillo, who currently only drives to and from work.