Municipal IDs for Immigrants

On Dec. 8 Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, along with other 14 mayors in office, attended an “immigration summit” hosted by her New York City peer, Bill de Blasio, at his official residence, GracieMansion. Mayor Miner was Central New York’s sole representative at the summit. The others mayors from New YorkState at the meeting were those of Buffalo and Schenectady.

Mayor Miner endorsed the Five Point Challenge, proposed by de Blasio at the event, to push for immigration reform. One of the points of this challenge is to “establish local Cities United for Immigration Action coalitions.” Mayor Miner agreed to help set up a united front in Syracuse comprised of organizations in the business, labor, educational, religious and other sectors to carry forth the inter-municipal agenda on immigration.

On Jan. 12 de Blasio took a more practical step to assist immigrants when New York City started giving out secure identification cards to anyone in need of an government-issued ID. Since Mayor Miner is a strong de Blasio’s ally, it wouldn’t be surprising if she were to support a similar measure to be implemented in Syracuse.

The introduction of municipal IDs in Syracuse and in Central New York in general, in places such as Cortland, Oneida and Oswego, has the potential to benefit the community at large. For instance, by improving the relations between immigrants and local law enforcement agencies to make the community safer. When being victims of a crime, immigrants would be able to proof thoroughly their identity to the police and access the police and D.A.’s offices. Besides, immigrants would be able to open checking and savings account at financial institutions instead of having to carry cash around with them or hiding it under the mattress, thus making them less likely to be subjected to robbery or theft. For their part, banks and credit unions would have more money to lend to their customers.

Another advantage of the municipal cards is that they would enable immigrants who currently lack photo-bearing documentation to rent apartments. Also, the cards would permit immigrants to access health centers such as UniversityHospital, CrouseHospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, which ask for ID at their front desks when members of the public want to visit relatives or friends who are being treated as inpatients.

Not only the immigrants would find the municipal IDs useful but also the homeless, who face similar problems to the former. The fee for a regular driver license in Central New York varies between $64.25 and $92.50; the fee for a non-driver ID card fluctuates between $6.50 and $14.00, and; the fee for an OnondagaCounty sheriff’s ID is $13.00. Many of the homeless cannot afford to pay these fees. Hence, they confront delays in being relocated from the streets or shelters to apartments by social welfare agencies such as Catholic Charities and Onondaga Case Management Services.

On July 17 Mayor Miner penned a letter to President Barack Obama supporting Syracuse as a sanctuary for refugee children fleeing violence in Central America. Now she could continue showing her leadership in the Central New York region by promoting the issuing of municipal cards.

I avail myself of this opportunity to add my congratulations to the CNY Latino newspaper for the celebration of its 11th Anniversary. Please save me a piece of cake!

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

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