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The Importance of Driver's Cards

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In State Tuition and Driving Card Talking Points

In State Tuition for Immigrant Students

The Problem: 

Immigrant students without social security numbers are not considered residents of Wisconsin and do not qualify for in-state tuition.  This makes higher education financially unavailable to thousands of dedicated, talented students who have lived most of their lives in Wisconsin and who desire to continue studying to positively contribute to our state.  Wisconsin is throwing away great talent and potential of students it has invested in for K-12 education, and creating a second class of young students who cannot continue to study past high school.  This institutional barrier has created depression and even suicidal thoughts for thousands of students whose dreams are cut short. 

 The Solution: 

Approve the provision in the state budget that will allow immigrant students to attend the state universities and technical colleges at the same in-state tuition rate as their high school classmates. To qualify, the students will have to: 1) Live in the State of Wisconsin for at least three years, 2) Graduate from a high school or receive a GED in Wisconsin, and 3)Promise to file an application for a permanent resident visa as soon they are eligible.


Driving Card for Immigrants

The Problem: 

In May 2005 the U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act, requiring all states to check immigration status before issuing a driver’s licenses or state ID, and to only issue driver’s licenses to persons who are US citizens or have legal status.  The state of Wisconsin, in anticipation of the REAL ID Act, passed a state law in March 2006 entitled Act 126, which took effect on April 1, 2007.   Under Act 126, undocumented immigrants and persons with legal immigration status who do not have a social security number can no longer obtain a driver’s license or state identification.  This law has had tragic consequences:

•    Restricting Drivers Licenses Hurts Wisconsin Families, Communities and Economy.   Immigrants make countless positive contributions to Wisconsin communities, schools, churches, economy, and culture.  For example, Latino immigrants make up an estimated 42% of the labor force in the Wisconsin Dairy Industry. To get to work and school, people are now forced to drive without a license or with false documents. 
•     Restricting Drivers Licenses Erodes Public Safety.   Without driver’s licenses, people are unable to acquire auto insurance, and many times cannot access proper driver’s education.   The current climate of fear and increased racial profiling erodes trust in local law enforcement, preventing many immigrants from reporting if they are victims or witnesses to crimes or participating in investigations. 

•    Restricting Drivers Licenses is a Financial Burden to Wisconsin.   REAL ID is an unfunded mandate that would cost Wisconsin and other states an estimated $11.1 billion to implement.  Insurance and automotive industries have lost the business of thousands of immigrants who no longer have licenses, and the state DMV has lost the financial contribution of people who are now denied access its services. 

The Solution:

Create an amendment to the state budget that adds a provision for a Driving Card for immigrants.  The REAL ID Act allows states to issue driving privilege cards to people who do not have a social security number.  This Driving Card could not be used for federal purposes, which under REAL ID is defined as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building, but could be used for driving and obtaining insurance.  Some states have passed similar measures, including the Utah State Legislature in March 2005.   The Wisconsin Driving Card is an interim solution in a longer term process toward repealing REAL ID and Act 126, and regaining full access to Driver’s Licenses and state identification independent of immigration status, the safest solution for all Wisconsin residents.  



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