Undocumented Workers March In Madison For 'Driver's Licenses For All'

May 2, 2019

Across the nation, immigrant workers went on strike Wednesday for the annual May 1 "Day Without Immigrants" rally. Thousands gathered in Madison to push for driver's licenses for all.

German Sanchez was on the steps of the Capitol building, wearing a white shirt with black spots drawn on by his 7-year-old son. It's supposed to resemble a cow.

"This shirt represents the farm workers," says Sanchez, a farm worker himself. 

Thousands were in Madison for the annual "Day Without Immigrants" rally.
Credit Angelina Mosher Salazar

But Wednesday, instead of milking cows, he was in Madison to pressure lawmakers to allow undocumented workers to obtain driver's licenses. Many of the workers present, including Sanchez who was missing work, said they were on strike.

"We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but the farmers they have to know ... they gotta support the idea of the driver's licenses for all the immigrants," says Sanchez.

Before 2008 you could be undocumented and still get a driver's license in Wisconsin, but the implementation of the 2005 federal Real ID Act changed that. Now, people seeking driver’s licenses must demonstrate their U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.

Two men in luchador masks stand in front of the Capitol on Wednesday.
Credit Angelina Mosher Salazar

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has pushed to restore driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in his proposed biennial budget. But the measure is unlikely to pass the GOP controlled Legislature.

Some Republican lawmakers have already spoken against the proposal. We tried to reach a number of them in their Madison offices Wednesday to ask for their views, but none of the GOP legislators was available to talk for this story.