Wisconsin is living up to it’s state motto, “forward” and progressive tradition.
As Voces de la Frontera newspaper goes to press, the fight for access to drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition for immigrants has made important progress. The Joint Finance Committee voted to include both measures in the state budget by a vote of 12-4, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing. The budget now goes to the full Assembly and Senate for vote and then to the Governor.
Now there is a critical need for people to communicate with their state elected officials and the Governor’s office to express our support for both drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition. Letters of support from key individuals and organizations, churches, and unions are also key.
Voces de la Frontera can help the community in this fight. In the same way people organized to form the largest march in the nation; we need to organize in mass again, to ensure that elected officials hear from us.
To be clear, we have not yet won these rights. The State Assembly and Senate still needs to pass the budget with these provisions and then it goes to the Governor. This process will happen in June.
If signed into law the new driving card would be available for persons, legal and undocumented, who currently do not have access to a social security number. The driving card would be used to drive legally and obtain auto insurance; but could not be used to enter a federal building or board a plane.
Law enforcement could not use the driving card as a basis for questioning someone about their immigration status. The same fees as a standard license would apply but it would be renewed every 2 years.
To obtain a driving card a person would have to prove identity, residency, and provide an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) which is issued by the IRS to persons who do not have a social security number in order to file their taxes.
If passed, the law would take effect in six months and Wisconsin would be the second state in the nation after Utah that provides driving cards for immigrants.
The driving card option is available under a provision of federal REAL ID which passed in 2005.
The in-state tuition for immigrant students, measure was also passed by Joint Finance Committee along party lines by a vote of 12-4, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing.
To qualify for in-state tuition rates at Wisconsin public universities and state technical colleges, undocumented students would have to reside in Wisconsin for at least three years and graduate from a Wisconsin high school or earn their General Equivalency Degree (GED) and pledge to apply for permanent residency visas when available.
Currently, undocumented students are treated as foreign students and required to pay out of state tuition rates which makes their dreams of pursuing higher education impossible.
The progress on both these measures represents years of work, as Latinos, immigrants, and allies have made their voice heard in the streets and in the voting booth. Our voices need to be heard one more time, contact your state elected officials now.
To find out who your legislature is please call Voces de la Frontera at 414-643-1620 for assistance.
This post is also available in: Spanish