Cincinnati considers photo IDs for immigrants, homeless

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati’s city council is considering a resolution that would authorize a photo ID card for immigrants, the homeless and others that police and municipal agencies would accept as a valid method of identification.

A vote on the resolution was scheduled for Wednesday.

The resolution and an accompanying executive order would allow acceptance of cards that members of a coalition advocating for them say would be the first of their type in an Ohio city. Similar cards have been created in other cities around the country, including New York and Greensboro, North Carolina. The cards wouldn’t take the place of driver’s licenses, but would allow residents other acceptable proof of identity.

Officials with the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati and the city say the cards would help some of the most vulnerable members of the population and the city as a whole.

Mayor John Cranley said the city’s Immigration Task Force found that legal immigrants, non-driving older residents, and others who lack the ability to get a driver’s license are often reluctant to report crimes, even when they are the victims. He said the police acceptance of the cards would hopefully help victims feel more comfortable to report crimes.

“This will make our city safer,” Cranley said in a statement.

The executive director of the coalition that would issue the cards says they would help in many ways.

“It will help those who are the most vulnerable feel more a part of the community,” said Margaret Fox. “It’s a general ID card that anyone can apply for, but the beauty of it is that it provides photo identification with a residential address for those who don’t have other IDs.”

Fox said the card will cost $15 dollars, but financial assistance would be available.

Applicants would have to show two forms of identification in order to receive a card. Those could include birth certificates, consular IDs, passports and letters from social service organizations, Fox said.

A coalition of labor unions, faith-based and social service organizations and other groups in Columbus is working to get a similar card there. One ID Columbus has been talking with city and county officials about the need for such a card, said Ruben Castilla Herrara, an organizer with the Central Ohio Worker Center that’s part of the coalition.

“This would be a legitimate and useful identification document that could make this a real opportunity city for everyone,” he said.

Castilla Herrara said the coalition hasn’t launched its public campaign yet, but hopes to have a formal proposal to government officials possibly as early as the end of this year.