By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2015-04-05
A valid local identity card for all can help marginalized members of the community feel integrated by providing access to city services and allowing people to prove who they are.
According to official sources at New York City mayor’s office, Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council President, will visit the city of Phoenix, Arizona to discuss the municipal identification card program. Mark-Viverito will hold meetings with members of Phoenix’s city government and one of the One Phoenix ID Coalition leaders to review New York’s IDNYC Program and share lessons that can be applied in Phoenix. President Mark-Viverito’s Phoenix visit was requested by the One Phoenix ID Coalition, as she is at the forefront of national immigration reform. The Coalition is comprised of over 50 organizations, including national activist organizations against violence, defenders of LGBT and migrants’ rights, faith-based entities, and small businesses.
According to Mark-Viverito, "When New York City implements an initiative, the rest of the country follows, and the success of IDNYC is yet another example. As Washington continues to fail on immigration reform, it is up to municipalities to take over and figure out how to protect communities. A valid local identity card for all can help marginalized members of the community feel integrated by providing access to city services and allowing people to prove who they are. I look forward to sharing our experiences with Phoenix, which is embarking on a bold plan to create a municipal ID open to all. "
Many residents of Phoenix, lacking identification, often avoid reporting crimes of which they are witnesses, for fear of interacting with the police. The Coalition wants to highlight the importance of this safety issue. It has also been advocating for a municipal identification card for almost two years. The bill establishing the municipal ID card in Phoenix, sponsored by Laura Pastor, passed the first official vote on March 26. The bill is scheduled to go before the Council for a full vote in early summer. Joseph Larios, director of the Center for Neighborhood Leadership and Coalition member stated, "The One Phoenix ID Coalition has worked tirelessly with our municipal council partners, including intrepid lawyer Laura Pastor. One Phoenix ID is honored to have President Mark-Viverito, a champion for marginalized communities in New York, visit our city and our coalition and government to engage in an in-depth conversation on how to improve the lives of residents in our city. When others failed to act, President Marc-Viverito led New York to become a national leader in establishing initiatives such as the municipal identification card and providing funding for legal and social services for unaccompanied minors. "
Since taking office, President Marc-Viverito has multiplied the number of initiatives on immigration and has sponsored key legislation, at a time when much of the action required by the federal government seems far off. She is recognized, among other things, for the passage of IDNYC, which is available to anyone who can establish residency in New York; the creation of a public-private partnership that provides lawyers and social services needed by many unaccompanied minors who make their way to New York; the adoption of laws limiting unnecessary expulsion, reducing the participation of the City in the application of laws on civil immigration; and funding for legal services in immigration court.