Pro Publica Story on Dairy Worker Driver’s Licenses Cites Study by Armando Ibarra

A recent story by Pro Publica on the problems facing undocumented dairy workers in Wisconsin who cannot obtain driver’s licenses drew on needs assessment of Wisconsin’s farmworkers authored by CLS Professor Armando Ibarra and his colleague Alexia Kulwiec of the UW-Madison School for Workers.  After the passage of the 2006 RealID act, Wisconsin stopped granting driver’s licenses to people whose presence in the US is unauthorized. Dairy farms in our state, however, still depend on the labor of undocumented workers.  Police officers and sheriff’s deputies repeatedly ticket and sometimes arrest those workers for driving without licenses, burdening them with hefty fines, administrative hassles, and more serious consequences.  In their explanation of the situation, authors Melissa Sanchez and Maryam Jameel drew on the study by Profs. Ibarra and Kulwiec, which estimated the number of undocumented Latinx workers employed by small-to-medium dairy farms, operations with 500 or more cows, at 6200.  That conservative figure excludes the many immigrant workers on smaller farms.  The study, which offers a broad statistical portrait of farmworkers in Wisconsin and suggests policy interventions to improve their situation, was conducted in partnership with the Wisconsin Farmworker Project of Legal Action of Wisconsin.