Miller: Latinos have more sway over Illinois politics
Five years ago, most Illinois House Republicans, including House GOP Leader Tom Cross, voted against a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain state driver’s licenses. The conservative rhetoric against the legislation was very harsh. Even so, it was approved by the House but was never called for a floor vote in the state Senate.
Back then, the legislation was seen as political suicide by many Republicans fearful of a backlash within their own party. But since November’s election results showed a heavy Latino turnout that may have swayed several races in favor of the Democrats, Republicans suddenly have become far more interested. Leader Cross, for instance, called the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights the day after the election, offering to work with the group. The ICIRR now considers the driver’s license bill will be a “down payment” on whether the parties want to make a “good-faith effort” to work with it in the future. And Cross is supporting it.
The ICIRR used a nonprofit group and a political action committee to play in several districts. It claims it hired 18 field coordinators, registered more than 26,000 immigrants to vote, raised almost three-quarters of a million dollars, and fielded more than 1,800 election-day volunteers, many of them concentrated in the suburbs
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