SOPHIA's Immigration Task Force presented an update of the efforts to garner support for Driver Cards for non-residents in Wisconsin. Dave Sattler, Chair of the Immigration Task Force reviewed the history and benefits of Driver Cards.
In May 2005 the U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act, requiring all states to check immigration status before issuing a driver's license or state ID, and to only issue driver licenses to persons who are US citizens or have legal status. Immigrants have jobs and families that make driving a necessity.
The REAL ID Act, allowed states to issue an alternative to driver licenses, such as driver cards, to non-citizens. It would be a different color and design than a standard driver's license and could not be used for other official purposes. However, it could be used to purchase auto insurance.
The Driver's Card would improve public safety as it would require proper driving education. All applicants would need to pass a driving skill test, a written and vision test. It would also assure that all drivers would be eligible for auto insurance.
Driver license restrictions cause immigrants to fear contact with state and local law enforcement. Such fear significantly reduces reporting of domestic violence, vandalism, and other neighborhood crimes, diminishing safety in our communities.
Issuing Driver Cards would increase revenue to the state budget. According to an estimate of the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau in 2009, the initial year of implementation would raise over $1 million dollars. It would also support many of the businesses in the state as their labor force would now be able to commute legally and provide more consistent services.
When this was discussed legislatively during the 2009/10 state budget cycle, many religious organizations, law enforcement, local governments, businesses, labor organizations, education organizations, the insurance industry and Latino organizations endorsed the concept.
Dave Sattler and representatives from the task force have met with legislators, and will continue building on these relationships, working toward support of legislation. Task force actions are coordinated on a statewide level with other WISDOM affiliates.
The Immigration Task Force meets monthly – watch the Calendar at sophiawaukesha.org for time and place.