One by one, Minneapolis residents came forward to say how they live without documentation. Banks charge them more when they cash checks. Landlords won’t rent to them.
A lack of identification complicates visits to the emergency room. Some don’t call 911 for fear of revealing their immigration status.
Speaking in Spanish, with an interpreter translating, they urged the Minneapolis City Council on Monday to move forward with a plan to create a municipal identification card available to all residents. It’s a step cities across the country have taken to support undocumented residents during the federal government’s immigration crackdown.
Some have criticized municipal IDs as an incentive for people to violate the law, but Monday’s public hearing in Minneapolis featured only supporters, many of them carrying signs demanding “Sanctuary Now!”
“If we can get [the municipal ID], we’ll have a proof of who we are,” Jessica Alvarado told the council.
Jovita Morales, a mother of two children who are U.S. citizens, she said she was a victim of domestic abuse, but never called the police. “I was afraid,” she said.
Rafael V., who said he was uncomfortable giving his full name, said he knows people whose money has been stolen because they can’t open a bank account.
“There are too many people living together because they don’t have an ID to rent an apartment,” he said.
The push for a municipal ID has earned deep support at City Hall. Mayor Jacob Frey has allocated $200,000 for the municipal ID program in his proposed 2019 budget. Issuing the cards will improve the community’s relations with law enforcement, City Clerk Casey Carl said.
Hennepin County Sheriff-elect David Hutchinson told the council he supports the program.
“It will make our job as public safety officials easy, and most importantly keep our friends safe,” said Hutchinson, who defeated Sheriff Rich Stanek in a tight race. “That is why I ran for office … to keep people in Hennepin County safe.”
City officials said the municipal ID will have additional benefits. It could be used as a transit pass, library card and official ID to open a bank account. At least three banks have already agreed to accept it as valid ID.
The cards would be available to any resident who is at least 13 years old. Applicants must provide a proof of residency and two identification documents. One document could be a driver’s license or permit, unexpired foreign passport, green card, unexpired consular ID card, an unexpired tribal ID card or employment authorization card with a photo. A secondary document could be a birth certificate issued by a foreign government or a certified marriage certificate.
The Minneapolis Police Department will accept the ID as a proof of identity, Carl said. The ID card won’t be a substitute for a driver’s license or serve as a form of voter identification.
The ID card will feature an individual’s name and photo, date of birth, address and identification card number. It will expire every four years.
City officials have been grappling with how to shield the data they collect through the program from federal immigration agents. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, the state’s public records law, does not include any exception for municipal ID data.
A city document says the names of applicants will likely be public. The draft ordinance is seeking to protect the address of card holders as “security information.”
At Monday’s public hearing, Daniel Romero, a volunteer with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, said the city should not put anyone at risk by collecting their data.
“We won’t enroll anyone, we won’t start printing cards, until we can protect people’s private data,” Romero said.
After the hearing, the council’s Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights & Engagement Committee gave preliminary approval to the ordinance. The full City Council is scheduled to vote on it Dec. 7.