The City of Detroit is issuing municipal ID cards to open up access to city services for residents who might otherwise have trouble obtaining identification, including homeless people and undocumented immigrants.
Unlike state IDs, which often require a Social Security number and proof of legal status in the U.S., a Detroit municipal ID can be obtained with a photo ID issued by a school or employer. Applicants also must establish residency in Detroit and be at least 14 years old. Homeless people can use the address of their shelter.
Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López, who played a leading role in getting the program started, said it will remove barriers facing the city’s most marginalized communities.
“That’s our goal, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to service people regardless of ethnicity, regardless of gender, regardless of housing status, regardless of immigration status,” Castañeda-López said during a news conference Wednesday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “Our job as a local municipality is to make sure that we’re doing what we can to protect and improve the quality of life for everyone in the city of Detroit.”
The city is opening two intake centers to process ID applications — at the Patton Park Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere, and the Samaritan Center, 5555 Connor. The centers will handle applications from 1-7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
The cards will cost $25; $10 for minors and seniors who are 62 and older.
Detroit IDs cannot be used to vote or to establish driving privileges.
But the Detroit Police Department, the water department, the Detroit Land Bank Authority and other city departments will recognize the cards. So will other institutions such as DTE Energy, One Detroit Credit Union, Detroit Medical Center and the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
More than 100 local business, including the museum that hosted the event, AMC Theaters and Buddy’s Pizza, also have agreed to provide discounts to cardholders. A full list of participating businesses is available at the city’s website.
To obtain a municipal ID, applicants will need to cross a 300-point threshold. The ordinance assigns values to several documents. A valid U.S. or foreign passport, for example, is worth 200 points. Bank records and baptismal records are among documents worth 50 points. In addition to hitting the 300-point mark, applicants must show proof of residency with a utility bill, lease agreement or other document that is dated within 30 days of the application. The IDs will include one’s age, address, date of birth, signature and a photograph.
The cards are good for two years, and then there’s a $10 renewal fee.
Mayor Mike Duggan said the program will help make Detroit more welcoming. Those who previously didn’t have a government ID will feel more comfortable reporting information to police. Duggan mentioned those returning from prison, undocumented immigrants and homeless people as those who should be able to access services with greater ease using the cards.
“For most of us who have driver’s licenses, we don’t know what this experience is, not to have ID and how hard everyday life can be. But there are groups of individuals in our city for whom everyday interactions are challenging,” Duggan said. “What it does do is say very clearly who we are — and we’re Detroiters, and we say it emphatically and in a way that is going to be accepted.”
Officials are hoping to issue 35,000 city ID cards in the next two years.
President-elect Donald Trump, prior to his election, said he would block funding for so-called sanctuary cities that he said protect immigrants who commit crimes.
Castañeda-López said Detroit has a law on the books stating the city will not voluntarily turn people over to federal immigration officials in the absence of a criminal offense. She said the municipal ID program promotes positive relationships between police and residents, and nothing about the program conflicts with Trump’s claims about so-called sanctuary cities.
“Our commitment is to being a welcoming city, to continue to grow to be diverse, inclusive and global,” Castañeda-López said. “Despite conversations at the national level, we are focused on that.”
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