We at Tolton Center have been working in the immigrant communities of Chicago’s Little Village and Pilsen for the past eight years. In those eight years, we teachers and volunteers have formed strong friendships and partnerships with students, libraries, educational organizations, churches, non-violence movements, and community activists.
These people and organizations have shared their spaces, their stories, their lives with us. With each of those relationships in mind, it is with great joy that we extend our gratitude to the Illinois State Senate, House of Representatives, Governor Pat Quinn and the Highway Safety Coalition for their role in the passage of the Highway Safety Legislation, SB 957.
SB 957 provides an opportunity for undocumented immigrants to obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License.
In order to obtain the license, drivers will have to pass vision screening as well as the written and road tests. They will also need to provide documentation of name, date of birth and proof of their IL address. In addition, they will have to submit proof of insurance. (For more information on SB 957, please visit Latino Policy Forum and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.)
At Tolton Center, we have long believed and taught in our classrooms that every single person is important. That everyone has a voice and that that voice must be utilized for the common good. We have taught EL/Civics through the years and encouraged our students to get involved in the community and in government.
Regardless of whether students were able to vote or not, we encouraged them to educate themselves so that they would be able to educate others. Students and teachers alike have written countless letters to local and national politicians, imploring them to act justly and to keep in mind our immigrant community.
We have witnessed first hand the devastation that can accompany a minor traffic violation for a family of undocumented immigrants. We look forward to the day when spouses no longer worry about each other on their way to work and children no longer wonder if their parents will make it home this evening.
Martin Luther King Jr. said that ”Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
To the bill’s sponsors and the organizations that work tirelessly to ensure a brighter future for our families, Tolton Center staff and volunteers sincerely thank you.