Municipal IDs a Victory for Immigrant, Homeless Communities, Reentry Populations and More

April 19, 2017
Sophie Vodvarka
Communications Coordinator
(773) 294-4909

City Council vote a step in the right direction to passing further Welcoming Ordinances in Chicago

(CHICAGO, IL — April 19, 2017) Today the Chicago City Council approved a Municipal ID program, joining New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Detroit and other cities to create a more welcoming and inclusive city for all of its residents, with a vote of 44-4. This card is important to many vulnerable communities because it specifically benefits individuals who either cannot or have difficulty obtaining government-issued documents, including immigrants, homeless persons, persons with disabilities, returning citizens, and transgender individuals. During this time of increased hostility from the federal government toward vulnerable communities, Chicago and other municipalities are demonstrating how local governments can welcome and protect all communities.  

Municipal ID cards avoid the creation of second-class residents within the city. They benefit all residents by facilitating access to city services and programs that require proof of residency at libraries, parks, schools, and other institutions, enabling  access to banking services, encouraging participation in cultural activities and more.  

Leaders from community organizations from throughout the city, convened by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Communities United (CU), have been instrumental in advocating for municipal IDs and for recommending best practices, particularly around protection of personal information. Under the ordinance, city officials will not save copies of documents submitted with application or retain address information to prevent any such information from being shared with other parties.

“The Chicago Municipal ID will give an alternative form of identification to all Chicago residents, and give residents a sense of belonging to this city which has always welcomed immigrants.”  said Mayra Sarabia, leader with the Southwest Organizing Project.

“The municipal ID will bring assurance to my community of people with disabilities that we will have greater access to more services such as healthcare in our city,” said Michelle Garcia, an organizer with Access Living.

“Passing the Municipal ID ordinance is a step in the right direction towards the larger goal of protecting various marginalized communities, including the transgender community, and upholding Chicago's inclusive values,” said Tanvi Sheth of Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois.  

A Step Forward toward Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance

Many of the same organizations that have been advocating for the Municipal ID are also engaged in other opportunities to make Chicago more welcoming and safe for all residents, including a push to amend the city’s Welcoming City Ordinance. “We appreciate the Chicago City Council’s vote today, and urge them to continue their efforts to make the city truly welcoming and safe for all by updating our city’s Welcoming City Ordinance in addition to launching this ID,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at ICIRR.

Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance already limits city collection of immigration status information and interactions with immigration enforcement. Further amendments, introduced by 27 aldermen in February, would remove certain loopholes to these general policies, bar city officials from facilitating any federal registry program that targets Muslims or other faith or nationality groups, and help immigrant crime victims seek legal protection.

The following organizations have been a part of the working group advocating for Chicago municipal IDs: Access Living, Centro De Trabajadores Unidos, Chicago Irish Immigrant Support, Communities United, Gift of Hope, Holy Cross Hospital, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Illinois Transplant Fund, Mujeres Latinas en Accion,The Night Ministry, Saint Anthony’s Hospital, SEIU Illinois State Council, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, South Asian American Policy Research Institute, Southwest Organizing Project, Target Area Development Corporation, Transformative Justice Law Project, United African Organizations