Wisconsin Officially More Racist Than Arizona

SB 533 has passed, but will not be ignored.

Isabella Beaupré

Feature Writer at RYSE
Isabella Beaupré is a Milwaukee-based writer and artist working to organize against oppression and fight for race, gender and class justice.

In February, thousands of motivated people gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to loudly oppose proposed bill SB 533. This bill “prohibits towns and counties from issuing, or expending funds for the issuance of a photo identification card for any resident of the town or county, other than an employment-related identification card for employees of the town or county,” effectively barring huge populations of marginalized people from gaining legal forms of identification.

Undocumented immigrants who have depended on this form of documentation for years will no longer be able to acquire or legally use their identification cards.

Trans people who rightfully refuse to use their given or dead names, wishing instead to present ID with their chosen names, no longer have the option to obtain representative identification. This will lead to difficulty when attempting to use old IDs that do not depict an accurate image or name. If the ID doesn’t match the person in front of them, officials have the ability to turn the presenter away; whether it be for something as trivial as purchasing alcohol, or for something much more serious, like reporting crimes, voting or receiving medical treatment.

Homeless people ineligible for a Wisconsin state card due to lack of permanent address will no longer have an option for obtaining legal ID.

Other communities, including low-income workers and formerly incarcerated people, will lose the same opportunity.       

This week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the harmful, racist and transphobic bill into law. To be clearer, SB 533 will halt vulnerable people’s abilities to:

  • Identify themselves to police when stopped or when reporting crimes
  • Access health care or medication
  • Open bank accounts or cash checks
  • File papers in court
  • Access local services like recycling centers and libraries
  • Enter public schools (to meet their children’s teachers)
  • Vote
  • Apply for social safety net programs (such as food stamps)

despite the fact that their taxes contribute to the function of many of these facilities and services.

Similar bills have been passed in other states such as Arizona, Oklahoma and Alabama, all in spite of intense pushback from citizens. These anti-immigrant bills pushed undocumented people out of all of these states in mass numbers, a harsh blow to business, agriculture and economy. Alabama, for instance, lost nearly $250 million dollars in state income and sales tax collections.  

This bill is obviously an attack on already vulnerable communities. Scott Walker is undeniably racist, transphobic and anti-homeless (something he has never attempted to hide) and this is another in a long list of negative and dangerous bills signed by his pen.

The people cannot be silenced in such a belittling way. This is a sad attempt by a small man to stay in control a few precious moments longer. Scott Walker, here is clear message: your power is limited, your fear is obvious and your actions will not be ignored.

To affected communities and allies: organize and unite. Links to active justice groups in Wisconsin may be found below.

The people united will never be defeated.


Youth Empowered in the Struggle https://yesinthestruggle.wordpress.com/

Students for a Democratic Society http://www.newsds.org/

United We Dream http://unitedwedream.org/

Legalization For All https://legalizationforall.wordpress.com/



Cover photo from www.youtube.com

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