Op-Ed: Why Municipal ID Cards Are Needed In Hartford


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Carlos Espinoza and Leticia Cotto, Co-chairs
Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs

At a time of national debate on immigration reform, the City of Hartford takes steps toward improving the lives of its residents by creating a municipal identification card that helps promote a sense of shared identity and enhances the City’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive community.
The City of Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA) applauds city officials for taking the steps toward adopting an ordinance titled “Municipal Identification Card Program” and developing its broad appeal to foster greater community participation and continue to encourage inclusiveness.
One of the best ways to make communities secure is to create an environment that increases opportunities for residents to experience a sense of belonging. This is important for all residents that make up our city: immigrants, those who are temporarily homeless, youth, formerly incarcerated residents who are rejoining society, our elderly, as well as military veterans. Their stability and security benefits the wider community, but without identification they are not able to engage in the community’s resources.
Municipal ID cards would allow access to resources supporting basic human rights and safety—like the use of banks (rather than carrying large sums of cash), the library (which facilities job searches, ESL classes, citizenship classes), and a range of city services. Identification cards have been shown to strengthen civic life in other cities-including precedent setting New Haven, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York.
Many communities have tried to make their city ID cards attractive to all residents (by including discounts to cultural and other attractions) in order to reduce the stigma of using a municipal ID card instead of ‘traditional’ forms of ID’s like driver’s licenses or passports. This is why the Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs urges the city of Hartford to adopt the municipal ID ordinance and to expand its features so that it will be adopted by a broad spectrum of its residents, truly demonstrating that “Hartford Has It”!
The Commission’s mission is to create a means for refugee and immigrant voices to be heard and understood, to facilitate civic engagement among refugees and immigrants, and to recognize and legitimize issues of importance to new arrivals to the City of Hartford.
Photo credits: Hartford guardian and newswork.org