Wisconsin Governor’s Budget Includes Drivers’ Licenses and In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens
By David Jaroslav | March 14, 2019
With barely two months in office, new Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) is already demonstrating that his commitment to illegal aliens takes priority over the Badger State’s citizens and legal immigrants. His proposed 2019-2021 budget aims to grant them two huge state benefits currently limited to people who are legally in the country: drivers’ licenses and in-state tuition.
Officially introduced as Assembly Bill (AB) 56 and Senate Bill (SB) 59, Evers’ budget would fund the operations of the state government for the next two years, but it’s the provisions in it regarding these benefits for illegal aliens that have widely drawn much of the attention.
Like states such as California, Illinois and Maryland, the bills would create a new category of drivers’ licenses available to those without Social Security Numbers or who otherwise can’t prove legal presence in the United States. To get them, all anyone would need to do is “provide an individual taxpayer identification number, a foreign passport, or any other documentation deemed acceptable to” the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They would be marked, “Not valid for voting purposes. Not evidence of citizenship or immigration status.” Unsurprisingly, the license provision is backed by a combination of open-borders groups like Voces de la Frontera, and the business/cheap labor lobby, particularly in the agricultural sector, such as the Dairy Business Association (DBA) and the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU).
The bills would extend eligibility for in-state tuition to any non-citizen (including illegal aliens, refugees, asylees, people temporarily in the US on tourist or other non-student visas, etc.) as long as they’ve:
- graduated from a Wisconsin high school or received a GED in Wisconsin;
- been “continuously present in [Wisconsin] for at least 3 years following the first day of attending a high school in this state or immediately preceding receipt of a declaration of” a GED; and
- provided proof that they’ve applied for legal permanent residency or will do so “as soon as the person is eligible to do so” (which for most of them will never occur).
Full-time tuition for 12-18 credit hours at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship Madison campus is currently $5,277.76 per semester for in-state residents, while it is $18,402.64 per semester for non-residents, a difference of $13,124.88 and almost 3.5 times the price.
According to FAIR’s 2017 cost study, Wisconsin taxpayers already spend over $425 million a year on costs related to illegal immigration, or $4,723 per illegal alien on a population estimated at over 90,000. This bill would only drive those numbers higher.
Republicans still control the state legislature, however. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has said “I don’t think there are many members of the Republican caucus who support this … It’s disappointing that the governor decided to make his budget a liberal wish list that included proposals like these” and proposed to strip them out of the bills.
During the 2018 election campaign, former Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Evers wanted “special treatment for illegals,” and he appears to have been correct. Regardless of what legislators may say now, Wisconsinites will have to keep the pressure on to ensure Gov. Evers doesn’t get his way on these issues.