Editorial: Support Community ID


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Officials from several Johnson County municipalities met on Oct. 27 to discuss issuing community identification cards. The identification cards would serve as IDs for those who do not have access to a standard driver’s licenses or state IDs. The homeless, elderly people who do not drive, the poor, and even undocumented immigrants would be among those who would benefit from such IDs.

The push from Iowa City officials on community IDs ,stems from the idea that the IDs would be useful for these demographics to be able to access local services that require IDs, something many people take for granted.

Something as simple as opening a bank account, buying medicine to treat illness, or getting a library card all require IDs. The community ID would serve as an alternative for those without IDs to be able to experience the same services that everyone else does.

Iowa City prides itself on having a diverse and welcoming community to everyone who lives or visits here. The local ID would be yet another measure conducive to strengthening the community and promoting acceptance of all individuals regardless of their situations. The IDs would give the opportunity for those seeking it to gain an intangible feeling of belonging.

Other cities have passed a community-ID measures, including New Haven, Connecticut, which made national headlines seven years ago as the first city in the country to issue community IDs. The fear among anti-immigrant groups prompted protest and raids by the federal government, sparking debates across the major news networks.

To this day, New Haven has sold more than 10,000 resident IDs. The current mayor notes a strengthening of community and economic surpluses, especially in parts of town that are heavily populated by immigrants.

Because of large immigrant populations, San Francisco is also among the other cities that have issued public IDs. It has made life easier for both illegal immigrants and legal immigrants there to be able to apply for jobs, obtain health care, and have IDs to show the police if stopped.

The assumption by those who opposed the measures in California and Connecticut, and who might oppose the community-ID program in Iowa City, say it allows undocumented immigrants to come to the United States illegally. Whether it advocates, or doesn’t advocate for that, is irrelevant to Iowa City’s responsibility. The city’s job is not to determine whether it is right for people to enter the United States illegally. The responsibility for all things relating to immigration reform is ultimately up to President Obama and Congress.

Iowa City’s prerogative should be to issue resident ID cards; fostering a sense of community, while giving more opportunities to those who call Iowa City “home,” is the right thing to do. 

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