Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Sunday afternoon in Chicago that grants hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants the right to drive.
Illinois became the fourth state — behind New Mexico, Utah and Washington — to allow driver's licenses for illegals and comes ahead of President Obama's announcement about immigration reform expected on Tuesday.
The ceremonial bill signing took place at the Instituto del Progreso Latino and included performances by a mariachi band and a roster of speakers 15 dignitaries deep, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"This bill is not just about driver's licenses, it's about equality for all," said sponsoring state Rep. Edward Acevedo, Chicago Democrat.
The permits will be called temporary visitor driver's licenses and will be visually different, with a blue background as opposed to a red one. It will still be another 10 months before illegal immigrants can obtain the licenses, with rules still being finalized and trained employees being put in place for the influx.
The cards will be marked "not valid for identification" and cannot be used for such things as boarding airplanes, voting or purchasing a gun. The licenses be valid for only three years, unlike regular licenses, which are valid for four. An applicant must prove he or she has resided in Illinois for a year or more and is not eligible for a Social Security card.
The secretary of state's office estimated about 40 percent of Illinois' illegals will comply under the new law.
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