Plan for Newark Municipal ID Moves Forward

The proposal for a municipal ID states that every agency must accept the card as valid identification. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

The proposal for a municipal ID states that every agency must accept the card as valid identification. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Newark could be the first city in New Jersey to issue a municipal ID, adopting the concept launched in January in the Big Apple.

The news made Cecilia Cabello very happy but, most of all, she felt relief. “Those of us who have no way to identify ourselves live in fear,” said Cabello, who has lived in the largest city in the Garden State for 11 years.

The Uruguayan street vendor said that, in her case, she has no way to show identification because her country’s consulate does not issue a consular ID card. “Wherever I go, they ask me for an ID and I can never produce one,” said Cabello.

The bill proposed by Mayor Ras Baraka states that a municipal identification card will be provided for undocumented immigrants and for residents who lack an official document to access city services. The municipal ID would facilitate entry to local museums as well as the opening of a bank account.

Bolívar Valdéz is an Ecuadorean street vendor selling ice cream, and he knows first-hand what it means to not be able to identify himself. “Whenever we go to get our vendors license, we have no way to show an ID card. That’s why what the mayor is doing for us who have no documents is a blessing.”

Last week, the City Council approved a modification to local laws to remove the proof of citizenship requirement to obtain street vendor licenses. Instead, once the program is in place, the law will allow Newark residents to present their municipal ID card.

Alfredo Quiñones, from Ecuador, dreams of some day starting a construction company. However, he would not be able to file the paperwork to get a license from the city without a form of identification. “I now see that my wish might come true sooner than I expected,” said Quiñones.

There is no record of how many undocumented people live in Newark, which has a total population of 277,140 [according to the 2010 Census]. Of these, an estimated 34 percent are Latino. Ecuadoreans are the second-largest Latino group after Puerto Ricans, with Dominicans in third.

The requirements to get the municipal ID, which is yet to be approved by the Council, will include that the applicant is at least 14 years old, and showing some other form of identification and proof of address.

This Tuesday, Council members are scheduled to meet with the mayor to iron out the details of the program. The city, which expects to implement it in July, hopes to attract people who were recently released from jail, the homeless, the elderly and undocumented immigrants.

Currently, the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. (LALDEF) issues a Community ID Card in New Jersey, valid in the townships of Ewing, Trenton, Princeton, Plainsboro and West Windsor, and recognized by the police as identification. The same is true in Plainfield, where the organization Angels for Action issues similar cards.

One Comment

  1. If Municipal cards are issued with six points including the SS#, then why can’t the State allow them to work legally while they continue to file their tax returns. IRS never returns their Income Tax on the plea that they don’t have the “work authorization”.

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