Wisconsin Legislators Ban ID Cards for Illegal Immigrants


Even after much campaigning, immigrants’ rights supporters in Wisconsin failed to get ID cards issued to illegal immigrants living in the state as legislators passed a bill banning counties from issuing such cards.

Advocates of the ID cards, along with Voces de la Frontera, have been protesting at the state capitol since last month in hopes that Gov. Scott Walker will veto the bill. Failing to do so, the protesters will move shift focus to cities with large Latino populations, such as Milwaukee and Madison, to gather more support.

Supporters argue that carrying IDs will allow the undocumented migrants to be able to open bank accounts, enter schools, and accurately identify themselves to police officers. Opponents, on the other hand, point out that the cards would be easy to fake and counties do not have the authority to issue such documentation, along with causing confusion due to state IDs already being distributed.

This debate sheds light on the greater struggle between organizations wishing to integrate immigrants into society and opponents protesting the perceived rewarding of immigrants entering the country illegally.

The local ID programs began around the turn of the century and slowly gained traction, with a sudden great push coming about due to eight states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in 2013. In 2014, New York City officials started issuing IDNYC cards, implementing the largest municipal ID card program in the nation.

The push has created pushbacks, however. A bill in Arizona’s Senate this year attempted (yet failed) to strike a Phoenix local ID plan and North Carolina legislators severely limited local powers to issue ID cards last year.

Wisconsin’s local ID bill was also followed closely by a sanctuary city bill which would require police to check the immigration status of criminal suspects.