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Illinois Officials Push For Illegal Immigrant Driver's Licenses

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn, pictured here at his inauguration ceremony on Jan. 10, 2011.

Updated at 3 p.m. to include comments from Cullerton and Edgar comments. Tony Arnold contributed reporting from Chicago, and Brian Mackey from Springfield, Ill.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he wants to pass a bill out of the Senate next week to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. And Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll sign the legislation, if it lands on his desk.

Quinn and Cullerton attended a bipartisan news conference Tuesday that included former Gov. Jim Edgar and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, both Republicans.

"Our insurance premiums will go down. The crashes on our highways and the fatalities will go down. And we will have a record for people who are stopped for traffic violations. And so it’s really a highway safety measure in my mind. It obviously has some other benefits. It’s very symbolic, but it’s also very practical," Cullerton said.

Edgar says it's good policy because testing drivers will make the roads safer.

"It is a piece of legislation that is morally fair, economically sound, and politically smart," Edgar said Tuesday.

Edgar also says the GOP needs to show Latinos and other immigrants that it cares about them. Latino voters are credited with helping Democrats achieve big wins on Election Day.

Washington and New Mexico already require illegal immigrants to get licenses.

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