Legal Licenses for Illegal Immigrants?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 29, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: It's the "Big Outrage." Somebody needs to run some lawmakers in Illinois off the road, and I guess I'll be the one to do it.

Here's the offense: A majority of state lawmakers, as well as Illinois' Democratic governor, want to help illegal immigrants drive legally. They say it will make the roads safer. But is it right to do favors for people who have broken the laws getting in the country? Shouldn't Illinois be more concerned with rounding up illegals rather than helping them drive away? "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy reports, you decide.

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah John, critics are calling this an invitation to break the law, but it does have the support of cops who say they want everyone on the road to be registered.

(BEGIN VIDEO) (VOICE OVER): They crossed the border illegally, but a proposal in one state says that does not mean they should be driving illegally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems to me to be the ultimate of insanity.

KENNEDY: The Illinois House just voted 60-56 to create driving certificates for illegal aliens, allowing anyone, no matter how they got here, to register to drive a car. Republican Rep. Ron Stephens voted no.

REP. RON STEPHENS, R-ILL.: This is anti-American legislation. There is nothing, nothing our forefathers would see of value in this legislation.

KENNEDY: Currently, eight states grant drivers licenses without proof of citizenship, and in Illinois the bill does have the support of influential law enforcement groups, which argue it's better to have illegals in the system, then operating completely on their own. Laimutis Nargelenas is from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

LAIMUTIS NARGELENAS, ILLINOIS ASSN OF CHIEFS OF POLICE: Right now when we stop a vehicle with one of these individuals that would be driving the vehicle, they'd have no identification or little if any identification and we don't know who we're dealing with.

KENNEDY: He points out, the bill requires illegals to present a photo I.D. and submit fingerprints. He also says they would have to prove they have insurance.

NARGELENAS: That's important because of the safety factor. We believe that many of the situations, the individuals have fled accident scenes because they didn't have insurance, they didn't have the driver's license where hopefully now they would stay at the scene.

STEPHENS: What we are going down is the road to saying that it just doesn't matter that America has a border anymore. We're just saying that it doesn't matter how you get here, we're going to find a way to make life easy for you here.


KENNEDY: The bill will now go to the Illinois State Senate. If it passes there, Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he will sign it into law. It is scheduled to go in front of the Senate, John, in the next couple weeks.

GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, thank you. Appreciate it.

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