Detroit approves municipal IDs for immigrants, homeless and others

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Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Thousands of Detroiters are deprived of jobs, insurance and vital services because they are ineligible or reluctant to apply for a municipal ID.

That is about to change under a new ordinance approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

The council unanimously approved the creation of a municipal ID for undocumented immigrants and others who can’t access a variety of services in the city without a state identification.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration plans to urge police, banks, museums, foundations, community partners and other institutions to accept the identification when the ordinance goes into effect in the fall of 2016.

Without a state ID, it’s difficult for residents to get jobs, insurance, bank accounts, utilities and municipal services.

“The ordinance aims to remove barriers that many face in obtaining an ID, honoring everyone’s fundamental right to be recognized in our society,” said Councilwoman Castañeda-López, who introduced the ordinance. “The ID card will especially help vulnerable communities such as the elderly, homeless, youth, ex-offenders, LGBTQ, and immigrants by increasing access to valuable civic, safety, and community services. This is an important step to ensure that as a City we are welcoming and inclusive of all Detroiters as we grow as a diverse, inclusive, global city. I sincerely hope that everyone will apply for a Detroit ID once the program rolls out in the fall.”

Undocumented immigrants aren’t the only people who will benefit from a municipal ID. Studies have shown that some of the most vulnerable populations – the homeless, elderly, mentally ill, disabled and formerly incarcerated –  are disproportionately without state IDs.

Detroit joins San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C. and a handful of other cities with municipal IDs.

“The Mayor has made this one of his top priorities because this is something that will make Detroit so much more accessible for so many people who are living here right now, who call Detroit home, but don’t have the same benefits that we have,” Alexis Wiley, chief of staff for Duggan, said.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.