Changes Could Create Driver's License Hassle

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Some people say Wisconsin's policy for getting a driver's license ought to change. It's a debate nationwide and here at home whether to require proof someone is in the U.S. legally when applying for a state driver's license. That license could expire when a person's visa expires.

"Once you obtain that license, you're legally a Wisconsin resident," one legislator says.
It's a piece of plastic many people cherish.

"My license is my life," one man told the Assembly's committee on criminal justice and homeland security.

But others also consider it a government document too loosely granted to some people.
"Think about that, they're here illegally ... but a legal Wisconsin resident because they've got that driver's license.”

A pair of assembly bills seeks to require proof, proof that a person who applies for a Wisconsin driver's license or ID is in the country legally.

Rep. Mark Pettis says, "these proposals will help law enforcement track illegal aliens and help reduce numbers who are here past allowable time."

Supporters say terrorists, like the 9-11 hijackers, can use a license or ID for other activities within U.S. borders.

"They have the ability to use these to set up bank accounts, to funnel in money ... to take flight lessons, now to get onto airliners," Rep. Mark Gundrum says.
But a couple of people from Wisconsin's department of transportation spoke against the proposal.

They say it could put more unlicensed and uninsured drivers on state highways and could cost the state.

"Both of these bills carry significant costs and could increase workload for us at same time we are giving up 62 positions with budget reductions," Erin Egan says.

Others fear a reduction in the quality of life. UW Whitewater student Maria Castillo fears an expiration date tied to a visa could put her at a disadvantage for employment.
Castillo says, "they're not gonna be sure should we hire this person if this person can only work two years or three years, and later on we don't know if immigration will allow this person here."

A similar proposal already is making it way at the federal level.

They says other states passed similar legislation, making Wisconsin a target for people willing to take advantage of the system.

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