Statement by William J. Kelly
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 2012 – In a letter to the Illinois Review, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran accused me of “inaccuracies” concerning his support of Senate Bill 957, which allows 250,000 illegal immigrants to receive state-issued driver’s licenses. Since I am not in the habit of penning inaccuracies, I feel compelled to address his response. In January, I will be speaking to the Republican Assembly of Lake County on the issue of driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. I would like to challenge Sheriff Curran to come and debate me on this issue publicly at that time.
Let me say that I did not single out Sheriff Curran in my column for criticism. Curran, unlike other GOP leaders, changed his position on illegal immigration about a year or so ago. Other Illinois Republican leaders who supported this bill changed their position on illegal immigration…one day after the November election. This is what masquerades as “principle” these days.
Illinois politicians can spin it in any way they want; but everyone knows this bill is about politics, not policy. SB 957 was fast-tracked and Illinois Republicans leaders just hoped GOP primary voters wouldn’t notice the vote right before the holidays. They were wrong.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has been trying to get this legislation passed for a long time and they have targeted legislators who oppose them. Sensing the GOP blood in the water this election cycle, they moved quickly. The ICIRR recast itself as the “Highway Safety Coalition,” which has a nice, friendly ring to it. After all, who can be against “highway safety?”
But the public doesn’t know what is really taking place behind the scenes here. Greg Sullivan, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, was kind enough to offer a glimpse of how law enforcement really feels about this bad bill. Now we know have some idea why Illinois police chiefs have joined together to oppose the bill in Springfield.
In his response, Sheriff Curran named a handful of law enforcement officials who support this bill. ICIRR knew they needed the backing of law enforcement to market this bill to the public and to Springfield. But it is truly deceptive to say that Illinois law enforcement supports this bad bill – when the majority does not.
A few other key points. Curran repeated – almost verbatim – all the arguments in favor of the bill listed on the Highway Safety Coalition’s website. I am familiar – but not impressed – by any of them.
Yes, Illinois lawmakers plan to use “biometrics” like facial recognition to issue driver’s licenses but not fingerprint biometrics. Why not use fingerprinting if it can help and law enforcement wants it and trusts it? I think it is because the ICIRR’s membership doesn’t want it. But why is our state law being determined by illegal immigrants who don’t want to be fingerprinted?
Illinois, New Mexico, and other states have used biometrics in the identification process for years. But we still have driver’s license fraud in these states. Just this past June, nine people were arrested in a national driver’s license fraud ring in New Mexico involving the sale of hundreds of illegal licenses to foreigners in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Documents like rental agreements, utility bills, vehicle titles, and proof of insurance were forged to get the licenses.
This raises some serious questions about the use of passports and consular IDs to receive a TVDL in Illinois. In his response, Curran says that foreign governments have established “strong procedures for issuing these documents” and that “they have no interest in enabling fraud.” Really, these documents aren’t subject to fraud? How much cooperation has the U.S. received from the Mexican government on the issue of illegal immigration? I’m sorry, but I’m skeptical and the public should be too.
Curran’s last point is we need a “smart solution that allows cops to actually do their jobs and go after bad guys and (not good people just trying to go to work, school or church).” But more than 80,000 accidents a year are caused by these “good” illegal immigrants on their way to work, school, and church at a cost of $660 million to insured drivers. A smart solution isn’t a solution that panders; it’s a solution that works.
All we have heard from SB 957’s proponents in Springfield is that we – the people of Illinois – need to “trust them” on this bill. Illinois politicians tell us that they know what they are doing and there won’t be any fraud or abuse . But Illinois politicians haven’t earned our trust. Whether it is driver’s licenses and convicted Illinois governors or billions in unfunded pension liabilities, we have a broken system in Illinois.
And, somehow, I don’t think issuing driver’s licenses to 250,000 illegal immigrants is going to help.