Immigrant rights advocates call for driver’s licenses, in-state tuition at Capitol rally

MADISON, Wis. — An immigrant rights rally led by Voces de la Frontera Monday pushed for lawmakers at the state Capitol to allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses and in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses.

While driver’s licenses can be important for work, advocates say it makes more fundamental things more accessible.

“You can go to the store, you pay with a check and then they see that your ID has expired,” said Alondra Quechol. “So then [those without IDs, people] can’t buy the groceries that they needed, you know, simple necessities for that one day.”

It also adds to daily stress, according to Keydi Osorio.

“My own family members have had to have fear and sometimes you would have to miss school because they couldn’t drive you somewhere,” she said.

Osorio is an undocumented student at a UW System school, and because of her immigration status, she has to pay out-of-state tuition. She said that shifts her focus the entire time she is in college.

Keydi Osorio

Keydi Osorio, who attends one of the UW System schools, discusses paying out-of-state tuition because of her immigration status during a rally at the state Capitol May 2, 2022.

“It is harder when you have to only go to school just for education,” she said. “You can’t participate in outside like clubs, extracurricular activities, sometimes because you’re focused on making the tuition, you’ve got to make the money so you have to work rigorously.”

Many scholarships are also out of reach for her because of her immigration status. She said a little bit of help on tuition would make a world of difference.

“Oh my goodness, I would probably have like three degrees at this time,” Osorio said. “I love education, education is something that helps us learn and just there’s so many things that education does for an individual.”

It is a similar story for Quechol, who is thinking about going to graduate school.

“I would love to go to UW-Madison, but that price tag is way out of my reach, so we’re also fighting for that,” she said. “It’s been a long walk, and we’ll continue to fight.”

Gov. Tony Evers had included those two proposals — in-state tuition and driver licenses — in the budget he proposed in 2021, but Republicans in the Legislature removed those provisions. Republicans have previously been critical of policies like allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses due to concerns around voter fraud.