JUNE 30, 2009
Under fire, Wisconsin legislators killed a measure to give illegal immigrants special driver’s license but still passed a law that gives them discounted tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities.
The two controversial measures were inserted into the 2009-2011 state budget and, up until a few days ago, both were scheduled to be approved. After all, the Badger State has at least three official illegal alien sanctuaries—Madison, Racine and Dane County—and a history of protecting and accommodating residents who are not in the U.S. legally.
For decades illegal immigrants have been able to obtain driver’s licenses in Wisconsin but in 2005 lawmakers rescinded the privilege in response to a federal law (Real ID Act) requiring states to verify the authenticity of every driver’s license applicant by 2011. Legislators came close to offering illegal immigrants, who won’t meet the new federal security standards, special cards but made a last-minute decision not to when the issue came under public scrutiny.
But they still passed the college tuition measure, which will allow illegal immigrants to pay the same discounted fee ($7,576 annual in-state tuition at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee compared to $17,306 out of state) as legal state residents at public colleges and universities. Incidentally, the perk is denied to legal U.S. residents of other states yet granted to those in the country illegally.
Wisconsin becomes the nation’s 11th to offer the coveted benefit, along with the likes of California, Texas, New York and Maryland. An estimated 400 to 650 illegal immigrants annually graduate from Wisconsin high schools and will benefit from the huge discount.
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