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Milwaukee County a step closer to ID cards for illegal immigrants, others

By   /   December 4, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County is poised to take another step toward creating local identification cards to be issued to illegal immigrants, the homeless and others.

The Milwaukee County Health and Human Needs Committee on Wednesday is expected to take up a resolution that would establish a “Joint Task Force on Community Identification Cards.”

The proposed task force, represented by the county and the city of Milwaukee, would review and make recommendations related to the creation and issuance of community ID cards, according to the resolution’s sponsor Supervisor Peggy Romo West, vice chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and chairwoman of the health committee.

Taxpayers would cover the cost of the ID program, at an initial cost of $300,000 — split evenly between the city and county.

Photo by Glendale Post 416

VOTER INTEGRITY BATTLE: Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander was labeled a racist by her colleagues last month for offering an amendment that would require proposed Milwaukee County ID cards to clearly state that the IDs could not be used for voter registration.

Such an ID is needed, according to Romo West, because “many Milwaukee County residents face barriers to obtaining state identification and could benefit from a community identification card…”

That list includes, among others, low-income elderly, individuals with mental illness, survivors of domestic violence and formerly incarcerated individuals re-entering the community, according to the resolution.

It also includes the homeless, illegal immigrants and transgendered individuals.

The resolution notes “cities and counties across the nation are investing in local community identification programs in an effort to promote community unity and safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of all community members.”

That is a huge overstatement.

An analysis conducted by Milwaukee County’s deputy corporation counsel notes municipal ID programs exist in about a dozen municipalities and two counties, both in New Jersey.  Colleen Foley‘s August memo to County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Khalif Rainey asserts the New Jersey ID programs aren’t as expensive as the initiative contemplated in Milwaukee County.

“Monmouth County, New Jersey issues cards only to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Mercer County, New Jersey’s program is actually issued by a local, nonprofit,” the attorney wrote.

Such IDs are “primarily intended to permit a person lacking photo identification to access municipal and private services,” like prescriptions, bank accounts, library cards, crime reporting, etc., but the cards are “multi-purpose,” Foley noted.

It’s the potential for open-ended access, particularly to illegal immigrants, that concerns fiscal watchers and voter integrity advocates.

“It’s obvious the long-term goal of this proposal is to subvert the voter ID law to give undocumented immigrants the opportunity to vote here in Wisconsin,” said state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, and a former Milwaukee County Board member. “And to make matters worse, it appears the Milwaukee County Board is trying to use state funding to achieve their goal. We must keep a close eye on this as it proceeds so we can do whatever it takes to protect the integrity of the voting process in Wisconsin.”

Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander last month urged the county’s Finance, Personnel and Audit committee to approve an amendment to the proposal that clearly states the cards would not be used for voting.

RELATED: Taxpayers to cover cost of Milwaukee County ID cards for illegal immigrants

Alexander was the only board member to vote in favor of the amendment.

The supervisor was basically called a bigot, a racist and compared to Donald Trump because of her voter integrity concerns.

“We need to be sure that we’re honest with people,” Alexander said in a statement in early November. “The authors of the legislation funding the Community ID program with taxpayer dollars have said publicly that the ID cards will not be used for voting. If this is true, then why are they so adamantly opposed to marking that right there on the cards?” she asked.

Foley, in her memo, wrote that while the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 prohibits the awarding of state or local benefits to unlawfully present immigrants, she quickly added this disclaimer:

“The act does not bar states from delegating to administrative agencies or local government’s authority to determine whether unauthorized aliens may be granted certain benefits.”

Foley also wrote it “can be argued that municipal IDs are not a public benefit since they do not involve payments of assistance but rather access to services.”

But the money to set up the ID program and produce the cards would come from taxpayers.

The funding, which would be drawn from a state exempt computer aid fund, would be available as of Jan. 1, Alexander said.

“That money will be there for whatever task force is born,” she said. “In my opinion, it is going to be staffed with people who believe in illegal immigration and the transgender agenda,” not citizens who may oppose such cards.

Romo West asserts the IDs would “grant marginalized communities access to basic necessities that others take for granted…”

While it appears the ID program is on the fast track, Alexander said she will continue to fight for taxpayer and voter integrity protections.

“The county has a right and responsibility to ensure that if new ID cards it develops or funds for the benefit of the general public are not able to be used for something as essential to our way of life as voting, they should be clearly marked,” she told Wisconsin Watchdog last month.


M.D. Kittle is national First Amendment reporter at Contact him at [email protected]