Detroit approves municipal IDs for immigrants, homeless and others

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.

  • George McGnarly

    FDIC rules require that insured banks require State identification or valid passport. A state ID costs $10. Also, in order to get a job you must have a SS number.

  • nolimitdetroiter

    I would imagine that some sort of identification/document will be required to get this ID. So then, what would be the prob lem in getting a state ID? Detroit… the wheel again. This new ID will have all the value of a DPS “diploma”.

  • Donald E. Hodge

    I couldn`t tell you how many times I had to go down with my wife to the immigration office so they could Check her finger prints, fill out more forms or basically to hit us up for another three hundred dollars without an explanation. my point is where do you draw the line. If you want to be part of this country this is what you have to do to make that happen. That is just the way it is. What is the new reasoning that folks will just drop everything and go get a city of Detroit ID. and not a state of Michigan?

    • banmar

      They can’t get a state ID — they don’t have an American passport or birth certificate, which are mandatory under the federal six-points-of-positive ID federal law to get a state ID or DL. Most illegal immigrants will use the drivers’ licenses or voter IDs, which, in Mexico, both have photos. If an illegal immigrant wants to pay taxes, they first get a municipal ID and then apply to the IRS for a taxpayer ID number, or TIN, from the IRS. Not only will the TIN allow them to pay taxes, they can also open bank accounts with them. (Illegal immigrant workers are disproportionately targeted for robberies and burglaries, as you need a TIN to even open up a prepaid debit account. They carry or hide their cash; cops call them walking ATMs). Refunds for overpayment of taxes re not available to those with TINs; their refunds revert to the Treasury. That being said, getting a municipal ID and a TIN are firm stepping stones toward permanent residency and citizenship, because getting and keeping them show a commitment to formalizing their status, even as an illegal immigrant, and paying their fair share of taxes.

      Interestingly enough, when I first started working at American Express in 1995, we had a ton of NYC-based employees with TINs and illegal status that had worked for the company for years. Amex was considered responsible for letting it go on, so they had to resolve all those cases, and they did.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Believe me, I get all that. The point is If the INS tells you this is the game you play to do the right thing then that is what you have to do. When my wife and I were first married we were dirt poor. We didn’t say “Fuck it”, we don’t have the money so it’s ok. Just follow the God damn rules like all of us have to. Or don’t Bitch upon arrest saying “Well I didn’t have the money”.

        • banmar

          I’m with you, Don. I have a good friend who is an immigration lawyer (and a very conservative Republican) who was a county freeholder and her town’s current mayor to whom I’ve referred a lot of residents over the years, and she says the same thing. She tells them they must pay the fees and to start saving by giving her small amounts of money each payday and she puts it in their client accounts until they have enough money to pay the fees to file. Not everyone will do it, but there are good lawyers and advocates out there, in all political parties, that can assist the undocumented aliens with doing things right after the fact if those who need the help follow the path?

  • javierjuanmanuel

    You do not have a fundamental right to be recognized, thats why you need state ID. What a jackass.

    Maybe open an office that hand holds adults and helps them get state IDs, that would be an actual solution.

    illegal immigrants get plenty, they do it of course illegally with fradulent id, they are not doing with out. They get aid, and then work cash jobs as well.

    Do you think they are all sitting around, just waiting for the laws to change ?

    • Harry Palmer.

      Check your white privilege Adolf! People like you need to leave!