By BRYNA GODAR
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Advocacy groups and Milwaukee officials are exploring new ways to provide local photo IDs to the homeless and immigrants in the country illegally after Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill hindering their current effort Monday.
The Republican bill prohibits towns and counties from spending money on or issuing photo IDs. It also prohibits using city or village IDs to vote or obtain public benefits.
The bill blocks a recent partnership between Milwaukee city and county to issue local IDs to those who have difficulty obtaining other government-issued identification. The local IDs were intended to assist with everyday tasks such as opening a bank account or obtaining prescriptions.
But the city of Milwaukee can still issue IDs without county support, an avenue Milwaukee officials might pursue.
“My office will continue to work with all interested parties for a way forward on this important issue, but there’s no doubt the State’s action makes this much more challenging,” Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez wrote in an email.
Supporters of the ban on local IDs note that immigration is a federal issue and say the bill will cut down on confusion and fraud that could stem from having a myriad of different IDs.
“Government-issued ID should be uniform across state,” Walker wrote in a tweet Monday after signing the bill. “State-issued photo ID cards are available for free upon request at DMV.”
Opponents call the bill anti-immigrant and say local IDs would assist immigrants in the country illegally with tasks including entering schools and accurately identifying themselves to police.
Thousands of protesters flocked to the state Capitol in February to oppose the bill and another failed proposal that would have banned so-called “sanctuary cities.” That bill would have blocked local governments from prohibiting police from working with federal immigration authorities or inquiring about the immigration status of anyone charged with a crime. It cleared the Assembly but didn’t gain Senate approval.
Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz called Monday’s signing of the ID bill “shameful.” She said the immigrant rights group will continue to work with the city to obtain local IDs, although the countywide ID would have been more effective.
“I think it’s very disappointing that Gov. Walker would do this, because Milwaukee was the first city-county partnership in the nation,” Neumann-Ortiz said.