* I’ve been telling my subscribers about this push lately, in context of the unexpectedly strong Latino vote this year…
Virtually every big-name politician in Illinois, with the exception of the two Republican legislative leaders, will gather Tuesday to support an upcoming push to license as many as 250,000 undocumented immigrants to drive in Illinois.
In a nearly unprecedented show of support, Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar, GOP state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and state Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) plan to sign on to the immigrant-rights driving initiative and attend Tuesday’s press conference in support of it.
The event, sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, aims to highlight legislation in the works that would equip undocumented immigrants with three-year temporary driver’s licenses, said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer and executive director for the group.
The proposal that likely will be voted on sometime during the post-election legislative session that spans from later this month through early January will be a variation from 2007 legislation for undocumented immigrant drivers that narrowly passed the House but failed to get called for a vote in the Senate, he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as hard a sell [as 2007], but we’re belts-and-suspenders people. We’ll work until it gets signed into law,” said Benito said. “I do think there will be strong bipartisan support for it based on who’s showing up [Tuesday].”
* Treasurer Dan Rutherford is among the Republicans not scheduled to appear today. More from the Sun-Times…
Not on Tuesday’s lineup of political attendees is House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).
“This is the closest thing that Springfield sees to the immigration debate. If the Republican Party wants to show good faith in doing outreach to the Latino and immigrant community, this is a bill that would show good faith, that they weren’t Johnny-come-latelys.”
A Cross spokeswoman said she was not certain what Cross’ posture on the legislation would be and noted that the House Republican caucus has not yet met to discuss the initiative.
* The Republicans have paid a lot of lip service to Latinos since election day. But this will be one of the first opportunities in the country to actually court that vote. Edgar and Topinka know what’s what. Others? Maybe not so much. The right wing hates it. But one of the far Right’s Illinois heroes has recently jumped on board…
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran is backing proposed legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, saying it’s an economic imperative for our financially struggling state.
“We need them to be getting to work,” Curran said. “We need them to have driver’s licenses.” […]
Elected sheriff as a Democrat in 2006 and re-elected as a Republican in 2010, Curran initially had a fairly hard-line view. He was the first sheriff in Illinois to request jail officers be given formal deportation powers, and he backed a program that helps identify illegal immigrants arrested in the county.
By early 2010, however, Curran was endorsing national immigration reform and calling for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
A devout Catholic, Curran has said discussions with Catholic leaders prompted the change in attitude.
He quoted the biblical Gospel of Matthew when explaining his position, saying, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Just a few years ago, Sheriff Curran wanted deportation powers for his deputies.
Illinois Review claims that Edgar and Topinka “defied the Illinois Republican Party’s policy platform on the issue.” But a party platform is not holy writ. If it was, a whole lot of people on both sides of the aisle would be routinely excommunicated.
* Video of the press conference is available here.