As protests against ICE and the separation of immigrant families continue across the country and calls to #AbolishICE go mainstream, it’s not always clear what policy can be done at the local level to support the undocumented.
That’s where municipal IDs come in.
On Monday, the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council unanimously passed a law to create a municipal ID.
The vote follows months of advocacy for the legislation by Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, a member-led immigrant rights and social justice organization based in Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counties, in collaboration with members of the City Council and Poughkeepsie community.
The IDs will be available to all City residents and will be particularly valuable for the City’s most vulnerable community members: undocumented immigrants, as well as the homeless, transgender people, youth, the elderly, the formerly incarcerated, and others who may have difficulty obtaining other government-issued ID.
The municipal ID will help those who currently lack government-issued ID interact with the police, pick their children up from school, fill prescriptions, see a doctor, open bank accounts, and use the library.
All residents (including those who already have government-issued ID) will be encouraged to get a Poughkeepsie ID to foster a more united community. The City and Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson will work to tie the card to discounts at businesses and other public and private venues in order to help popularize the IDs.
Poughkeepsie is the second municipality in the state with an ID program, after New York City, and one of over 20 nationwide. Poughkeepsie is the first city in the country to pass a municipal ID with a Republican mayor in office.
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson is donating ID card-printing equipment to Poughkeepsie to help ensure the program is implemented as soon as possible.
Jonathan Bix, Executive Director of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, said: “Immigrants are under attack, and municipal IDs are one of the most effective measures cities can implement to protect and empower undocumented people in these times. Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson has received enthusiastic responses from the mayors and councilmembers of Kingston, Middletown, Newburgh, and Beacon about creating their own municipal IDs, and we look forward to passing municipal ID legislation in these and more cities in the Hudson Valley. We still need to expand driver’s license access to undocumented New Yorkers, and we need to abolish ICE. But a municipal ID program is a critical protection we can win locally.”
Sarah Salem, Poughkeepsie City Councilmember, who drafted, introduced, and sponsored the legislation, said: “For many of us, the ability to provide proof of identity is taken for granted. For some of our neighbors living in the City of Poughkeepsie, the inability to do so creates barriers that can not only prevent them from being able to fully participating in our local economic and community life, but that can negatively impact many other areas of their lives. A Municipal ID card program will assist in reducing these barriers by providing many benefits to our most vulnerable residents with a more unified proof of identity and so help to connect ALL City of Poughkeepsie residents to services and activities regardless of immigration status, housing status, gender identity, or income. I’m so proud to have drafted and lobbied for this innovative legislation with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson and feel even more pride in knowing that Poughkeepsie will join the handful of other cities across the country who are working to actively foster more inclusive and participatory communities. I am eager to see how this program will act to stimulate our local economy and am excited to witness the positive impacts it will have on the local social, political, and cultural climate of our city. Most of all, I take so much pride in the fact that as a community we are actively expressing that ALL THOSE WHO RESIDE within our city, are welcome here and belong here,”
Emily Tucker, Senior Staff Attorney for Immigrant Rights at the Center for Popular Democracy, said: “I’ve written reports on municipal IDs used in the development of over a dozen programs, and I regularly advise elected officials and advocates on best practices for municipal IDs. I’ve reviewed Poughkeepsie’s legislation, and I can say with confidence that it is among the strongest municipal ID ordinances I have encountered. Poughkeepsie’s legislation should represent the gold standard for municipal ID card programs in the country,”
Joseph DeStefano, City of Middletown Mayor, said: “Mayor Rolison and Poughkeepsie should be commended for implementing the Municipal ID program. We expect a vote soon on the Middletown program and look forward to replicating what was done in Poughkeepsie. This program offers many benefits including building relationships with our Police Department, developing municipal pride and offering all of our residents equal access to all government facilities and programs. It hurts no one, is self paying and brings our community together and I look forward to the Middletown Common Council passing my proposal in the very near future.”
Steve Noble, City of Kingston Mayor, said: “Congratulations to the City of Poughkeepsie on this significant step forward. With the adoption of Municipal IDs, Poughkeepsie has demonstrated a substantial commitment to the safety and well-being of its residents and I look forward to working with my partners in the Common Council to develop similar legislation in Kingston in the coming months.”
Torrance Harvey, City of Newburgh Mayor, said: “I was very happy and excited to learn that the Poughkeepsie, New York’s Common Council passed a municipal ID Legislation with a unanimous vote yesterday!! I think it is time for this not only in Poughkeepsie but in Newburgh, New York too! This effort is another positive step in the right direction under the current given circumstances in our nation around immigration. Municipal ID cards are essential in this day and age.”
Randy Casale, City of Beacon Mayor, said: “Congratulations to the City of Poughkeepsie. Now that this is done we won’t have to reinvent the wheel, and hopefully we can get this done in Beacon.”
Vianney, a Poughkeepsie resident and member of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, said: “I’ll feel much safer having a Poughkeepsie ID. All I have now is a Mexican passport. My mom could never pick me or my sister up from school, but now the same thing won’t have to happen to my kids.”