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Wisconsin governor announces that illegal immigrants could soon be eligible to receive driver's licenses and ID cards

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Image source: YouTube screenshot

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has announced that illegal immigrants in Wisconsin will soon be able to receive state-issued identification cards as well as driver's licenses if his proposed budget is approved.

What are the details?

In a Tuesday tweet, Evers wrote, "We're announcing tonight that undocumented folks will be eligible to receive driver's licenses and ID cards. This makes our roads and our communities safer, and helps strengthen our economy and Wisconsin families."

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Evers' proposed plan would permit citizens of other countries, who enter the U.S. illegally (or who remain in the U.S. illegally after the expiration of their visa), to obtain a state driver's license or ID card.

Evers believes that providing these tools to illegal immigrants will help boost the economy and make the roads safer. Contrarily, Wisconsin state Republicans believe that the move will promote further illegal activity, and may be used as a means to encourage illegal immigrants to vote, after concerns about similar abuses in California surfaced during the last election.

The plan would be similar to 12 other U.S. states, which currently allow undocumented immigrants to drive and receive identification cards. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

"It's not just giving people driver's licenses, it's getting them to work," Evers explained. "People will be required to have the training and making sure they know how to drive."

According to WBAY-TV, about 15,000 illegal immigrants live in one Wisconsin county alone.

The allowance is a provision in the proposed state budget, which Evers has called "the people's budget." The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Democrats are widely in favor of the move.

What are they saying?

Another person who supports the move is Green Bay Police Department Chief Andrew Smith.

"I think having driver's licenses for people who are here illegally will make Green Bay and all of Wisconsin safer for all of us," Smith said.

"If we have 15,000 people living in the shadows here in Wisconsin in our own county, it's pretty tough to figure out who did it if we don't have an ID, when we don't have a photo ID, we don't have an address, a fingerprint or anything to start from," he added. "It really is helpful for our detectives if someone has some kind of government-issued ID, so we know at least where to start if we're looking for someone."

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski also appears to be on board.

"Right now, you have individuals out there that aren't trained. They come to our area — and how they get there, not an issue that we're part of; they're here," he said. "They're here raising families. Our children are going to school together. We shop at the same stores together. They're here. They're not trained as far as driving. They have no way of getting insurance."

What else?

WBAY reported that Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) believes that the proposal needs to be removed from the budget proposal and judged as a standalone proposal.

The budget was released on Thursday. You can read more background information on the state's complex budget — and how it's voted on — here.

Republicans currently have a majority in the state Legislature.

Gov. Tony Evers' first state budget spells out his spending priorities for the next two years.www.youtube.com

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