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Wisconsin State Immigration Laws

Understanding the intricacies of immigration law can be challenging and overwhelming. This is particularly true for people going through the immigration system or migrants at risk of deportation or removal. That's why it's crucial to learn about the basics of immigration law and the immigration services you can use.

This article by FindLaw contains comprehensive information about immigration laws in Wisconsin. It includes the basic rights and responsibilities of immigrants and noncitizens under the law. Below are the topics discussed in this article:

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Wisconsin

The federal government agencies handle law enforcement and administration of immigration laws. These agencies include the following:

Local agencies also work with the federal government to enforce immigration regulations. Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act emphasizes this collaboration.

Section 287(g) is a program implemented by ICE to strengthen the collaboration of local and federal authorities in handling matters related to immigration law.

This program gives local agencies the authority to perform certain immigration functions. These functions include identifying and removing criminal non-U.S. citizens. Several counties in Wisconsin take part in the 287(g) Program. Below is the list of the participating County Sherriff's Offices in Wisconsin:

  • Brown County Sheriff's Office
  • Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office
  • Manitowoc County Sheriff's Office
  • Marquette County Sherriff's Office
  • Sheboygan County Sherriff's Office
  • Waukesha County Sherriff's Office
  • Waushara County Sherriff's Office

The complete list is on the ICE's 287(g) Program website.

ICE also has the Criminal Apprehension Program (CAP). CAP aims to fight against illegal immigration by arresting, identifying, and removing noncitizens. This includes criminals at large and convicted of serious criminal offenses. The immigration officers will assess whether the convicted person should face deportation or removal.

Wisconsin Employment Check and E-Verify Requirements

E-Verify is an online system that helps employers confirm their employees' employment eligibility. The DHS manages the program with the Social Security Administration. Now, 22 states require E-Verify for some private or public employers.

While the state does not demand participation, businesses registered in states requiring E-Verify should use the program in Wisconsin.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Immigrants without proper documentation in Wisconsin cannot get state identification cards and driver's licenses. They enacted this rule through Assembly Bill 69, which became law on April 1, 2007. The bill requires Wisconsin driver's license applicants to present proof of lawful immigration status or U.S. citizenship.

But, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients may be able to get a state identification card or driver's license.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Wisconsin doesn't give immigrants living here illegally access to state financial aid. But the following are some of the benefits that they may use in Wisconsin:

  • Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Emergency Medicaid
  • Emergency shelter, transnational housing, health, and life safety services
  • Child care funded by TANF and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

Education Benefits

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 40 bars students without proper documentation and DACA recipients from paying in-state tuition rates. The bill became law on June 18, 2011. It revoked previous legislation that allowed students to pay in-state tuition. But, Wisconsin may consider refugees as residents, allowing them to pay in-state tuition. If the refugees meet the following requirements, they can use this benefit in vocational, technical, and adult education schools in the state:

  1. The person is a refugee by federal law
  2. The refugee moved to Wisconsin upon entering the United States
  3. The refugee has continuously lived in Wisconsin since then or showed an intent to establish permanent residency in the state

There are also other sources of financial aid that undocumented students can use. TheDream.US offers scholarships to students without documentation and DACA recipients. This applies if the students attend eligible post-secondary schools in the United States. They may qualify for scholarships and to attend the following out-of-state universities:

  • Delaware State University
  • Christian Brothers University
  • Trinity Washington University (Women's College); and
  • Eastern Connecticut State University

Voting ID Rules

The state follows a strict photo ID requirement to vote. The state lists in detail the acceptable forms of identification for voting. Included among them are:

  • DOT-issued driver's license
  • Military ID card
  • U.S. passport
  • Photo ID card issued by an accredited university or college in Wisconsin

To learn more about the acceptable forms of IDs, visit Bring It to the Ballot. Only U.S. citizens at least 18 years old are allowed to vote.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

Wisconsin state legislature adopts the anti-discrimination rules under the Fair Housing Act. The right of all people to equal opportunities for fair housing is secured. This right is available to every person regardless of race, disability, sex, religion, national origin, and family status.

Related Resources

There are organizations and legal resources in Wisconsin to help immigrants. The following are the legal resources and organizations in Wisconsin that help immigrants:

  • Immigrant Justice Clinic (IJC) — IJC gives legal services to the underserved immigrant communities in Wisconsin. It also engages in appellate advocacy on behalf of indigent immigrants.
  • Community Immigration Law Center — It helps immigrants and migrants by giving them access to legal representation, assistance, and services. It also offers immigration resources by giving education-related information on immigration issues.
  • Know Your Rights — This is a free guide for immigrants and their family members on protecting themselves during immigration raids.
  • USCIS Office in Milwaukee — This website has contact information for the USCIS immigration office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • FindLaw Immigration Law Resources — FindLaw offers free access to comprehensive articles about immigration law. Here, you will learn about the basics of immigration law. We also have articles that cover the intricacies of the immigration process. This includes the process for naturalization, green card application, and more.

Learn About Your Rights as an Immigrant in Wisconsin: Seek Legal Assistance

The rules and regulations related to immigration law may vary in every state. So, we recommend you seek legal advice from an immigration attorney. Immigration lawyers can also offer legal representation, and they know immigration court processes. Their legal services are particularly helpful to migrants who are facing deportation. Or those who were victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. Immigration attorneys can also assess your eligibility for the following:

  • Employment authorization (work visa/permit)
  • Lawful immigration status
  • U.S. citizenship through naturalization

They are also knowledgeable about advocacy in immigration court and federal court processes.

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