by Lisa Rantala. Link to the full news segment can be found here.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Living in the shadows, certain Columbus parents say they're afraid to go to their kids' schools and play a part in their own children's education.
"I had to leave my parents in Mexico," one Spanish-speaking mother told Scoring Our Schools after she crossed the border illegally more than ten years ago. She said she did it to escape violence. Another undocumented mother from El Salvador said she crossed the border when she was pregnant through Arizona.
"If there are jobs, it's not a lot of money," ABC 6 News Investigator Jesse Pagan translated. "It's $4 a day. So, she came here pregnant and her son was born here."
Now in Columbus, both moms limit their daily lives due to no government-issued identification and fears of being deported. That's after one mom told Scoring Our Schools her son is being bullied. The other said her child also suffers has a learning disability. All of their children are US citizens.
"She said she would love to be more involved and engaged at her kids' school," Pagan translated. "She, personally, wants to ask questions and wants to know what the kids are learning."
One group is pushing for a municipal ID program to help these undocumented parents.
"There are tens of thousands of Columbus residents who don't have ID," said Ed Hoffman with One ID Columbus. "They're forced to live in the shadows. They're forced to really be hidden."
One ID Columbus is pushing for the city to create the program for the estimated 100,000 city citizens with no valid ID and an estimated 25,000 to 45,000 undocumented immigrants who also live in Columbus. In existing programs across the country, applicants can provide foreign licenses, passports and third party testimonial to prove residency. They do not have to prove citizenship. In some programs, all copies of the records required are then destroyed.
"We don't have to solve the entire immigration process to have a sense that this could benefit the residents of Columbus," Hoffman said.
In a unanimous vote in 2018, Columbus City Council spent $10,000 of taxpayer money to study the idea. The study was released last year. No council member has brought it up since.
"We've been disappointed that this study hasn't been talked about at council or shared," Hoffman said. "(It's) really a disgrace."
So, Scoring Our Schools contacted City Hall to ask about the $10,000 study. The communications department for City Hall continued to refer us to Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano who no longer sits on city council. Scoring Our Schools then showed up to City Hall before Monday's city council meeting. Council President Pro Temp Elizabeth Brown who voted for the study avoided our questions.
Council member Mitchell Brown said he voted to spend the $10,000 to support his colleague, Michael Stinziano, who then sat on council with him.
"I thought it was worthwhile to have a study to determine what our position should be," Brown said. But months after the 56-page study was released, Brown admits he has yet to review it.
"We're a little busy with other issues," Brown said. "I'm sure once we get a chance to spend some time and get into detail about it, you'll hear more about it."
Scoring Our Schools did read the report which lists start up costs at more than $500,000. It would require another $300,000 to $400,000 a year to maintain. By phone, City Hall staff said those costs are too high for the few people the program would benefit so city council will not be pursuing a program.
One ID Columbus said they would return to city council to request an official response to the $10,000 study of the municipal ID program. Now county auditor, Michael Stinziano's office said he does not have the power or authority to start a program there. However, he said he gives city council his support on any efforts they may take.
More Scoring Our Schools stories can be found online here.
The Columbus Dispatch.
As a licensed social worker, I spent nearly 45 years of my working life in both the public and private sector, helping patients and families deal with an array of challenging issues. I am now retired. Looking back, I am reminded of certain common problems facing many of my clients. One of these was the lack of an acceptable ID. Without one, it became virtually impossible for many to access the services and resources so necessary in bettering their lives.
Unfortunately, this continues to be the case today. The vulnerable groups of people in our community, e.g. the homeless, victims of domestic violence, the undocumented and the elderly, know full well how the lack of ID impacts their lives in such a negative way.
A municipal ID would allow thousands of residents to share more fully in everything our city has to offer.
Many cities have established municipal ID programs. Columbus can be one of those and show that it is a welcoming, all-inclusive city.
John M. Andrews, Grandview Heights
The Columbus Dispatch.
More than a year ago, when Columbus City Council passed an ordinance authorizing a municipal ID feasibility study, the Aug. 31, 2018 Dispatch editorial “Columbus ID cards are an idea worth exploring” commended this action as opening “an important discussion that must include the larger community.” The yearlong research project, conducted by Franklin University professors Alex Heckman and Chenelle Jones, culminated with the August 2019 release of the feasibility study, available at https://bit.ly/2mrtkEC.
The study estimates that more than 80,000 Columbus residents, including many U.S. citizens, lack ID and asserts that “the lack of valid government identification often places significant limitations on an individual’s quality of life, the life of their families and on their ability to be productive members of the community.”
Surely all people of good will can agree with the Dispatch editorial board that “one doesn’t have to settle the immigration debate to understand that allowing people living among us to do so more responsibly and safely is better for everyone.”
Now is the time for our city council members to facilitate discussions and planning in the larger community.
Tom Gearhart, Bexley
The Columbus Dispatch.
Thanks to Dispatch Reporter Rita Price for her July 2 article about a young woman who is a U.S. citizen but still has been unable to obtain a state ID because her mother is undocumented.
She is far from alone in Columbus. A study commissioned by the Columbus City Council estimates there are more than 80,000 Columbus residents who either struggle to obtain or simply cannot obtain a secure photo ID. Without an ID people can’t apply for work or start businesses, open bank accounts, enter public buildings or do many other things those with ID tend to take for granted. ID equals opportunity.
In the past 12 years, dozens of U.S. cities including Providence, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York have established secure local municipal ID programs. A municipal ID validates a person’s identity and residence. It cannot be used to board an airplane or to drive but increases opportunity in many other ways, particularly for the most vulnerable.
The Columbus Police Department has opposed the creation of a municipal ID that would be available to undocumented residents. This is unfortunate. The chief of police in Providence has asserted that their local ID program has made his city safer. New York City, which has issued more than 1.3 million local IDs in the past four years, is the safest big city in the United States and the NYPD was involved from the beginning in the planning and design of New York’s Municipal ID.
It is time for the Columbus City Council to do the right thing and establish a Columbus municipal ID.
Ed Hoffman, Columbus
The Columbus Dispatch
Posted at 4:30 AM
By authorizing a study of a potential municipal identification card, Columbus
City Council has opened an important discussion that must include the larger
A primary purpose for city-issued cards elsewhere has been to allow
undocumented immigrants to live safer, more regulated lives — to be able to
prove to police officers who they are and to enter a child’s school building, but
also to allow access to bank accounts so they can avoid keeping large amounts of
cash and becoming targets for criminals.
Undocumented immigrants aren’t the only ones who could benefit from an
easier-to-obtain ID card. For other vulnerable people, such as the homeless and
those whose lives have been upended by addiction or mental illness, a city ID
could be the first step in re-establishing their place in the community.
Still, considering a municipal ID system means deciding whether Columbus
wants to extend that helping hand to the thousands of undocumented people
who live and work here.
We think the idea has merit; one doesn’t have to settle the immigration debate to
understand that allowing people living among us to do so more responsibly and
safely is better for everyone.
A city ID card wouldn’t change anyone’s citizenship status or make it easier to
get a driver’s license or any other form of ID. Ideally, it would make everyday life
easier and more productive for those who need one.
Backers of the idea also offer other potential benefits, such as fostering
“community pride” or offering resident discounts at museums and other
attractions. Chicago’s new CityKey cards can also function as library cards or
reloadable public-transit passes.
A sense of pride and belonging are undoubtedly good but can be achieved many
ways other than through an ID card.
Coordinating a new card with the Columbus Metropolitan Library or COTA
transit system seems redundant and likely to make the project more complicated
and expensive, but if local attractions want to offer discounts to residents based
on a city ID card, that’s great.
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther isn’t sold on the idea and declined to sign the
ordinance authorizing the $9,000 study. We hope the two Franklin University
professors hired for the study will focus on the concrete — how much a card
system would cost and how cards have been used in other cities — so council
members can make a truly informed decision.
CTA, City of Chicago, and Chicago Public Library to Integrate Ventra and Library Cards into City's Municipal ID Card
The city identification would be much easier to obtain than state licensing, OneID Columbus explained. This would provide a feasible alternative for immigrants, ex-convicts, and the impoverished senior citizens of the city to obtain proper verification, a hindrance that often times keeps many away from voting booths and possible employment.
Other incentives the card could provide include functioning as a prepaid debit card, possibly granting access to public transportation, and serving as I.D. verification when applying for a library card.
According to a recent study, approximately 21 million people (a total of about 11 percent of Americans) don’t currently have photo identification. Not only that but twenty-five percent of African-American voting-age citizens have no current government-issued photo ID, that’s compared to eight percent of white voting-age citizens.
Poor and lower income Americans are also disproportionally affected. Nearly 15 percent of voting-age citizens earning less than $35,000 per year do not have a valid government-issued photo ID.
Said Councilman Michael Stinziano, “That one form of ID could be an important way in which to connect people and continue to build on our wonderful diversity in the City of Columbus”
Other cities with similar municipal identification programs include New York City, Iowa City, Newark, New Jersey, as well as San Francisco, Oakland, and New Haven, Connecticut.
COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A grassroots effort is pushing the City of Columbus to create a municipal identification program.
One ID Columbus hopes to help local residents prove their identity with a new kind of photo ID-card.
Speakers from New York City, Detroit and Baltimore were in town, explaining how similar municipal ID programs have been successful in their cities. The summit met on Tuesday at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus.
Supporters said many residents in Columbus lack a proper ID to meet their basic needs. They hope One ID Columbus can change that.
“My husband is in the process to get the documentation legit with immigration,” said Laura Fuentes, who came to the summit.
She said while her husband works to establish residency in the United States, he can’t have a state ID.
“He has the passport and consulate ID card, but so many places don’t accept that kind of documentation anymore,” said Fuentes.
She said it’s difficult for her husband to prove his identity in the meantime.
“The demand is enormous, and we think the benefits are enormous too,” said Ed Hoffman with One ID Columbus. “Everybody can’t get a state ID, including the undocumented. But, there are other challenges.”
Hoffman said this program doesn’t just focus on immigrants. It also aims to help people who are homeless, victims of domestic abuse and the elderly. He said they often face barriers when trying to get an ID.
“Many times they don’t even know their social security numbers, and that’s one of the reasons that prevents [sic] them to have a driver’s license or formal state ID,” said Josue Vicenté, the executive director of the Ohio Hispanic Coalition.
Supporters said a municipal ID would help connect residents with public services and serve multiple purposes as a library card, pass to city parks and transit, among other things.
“It’s secure and safe, but it’s a little simpler to get,” said Hoffman.
Columbus City Councilman Michael Stinziano said, personally, he supports the cause.
“That one form of ID could be an important way in which to connect people and continue to build on our wonderful diversity in the City of Columbus,” he said.
Stinziano said city council will continue to discuss this program before drafting a new ordinance or folding it into existing legislation.
The Franklin County Sheriff, three Columbus City Council members and the city attorney were also in attendance at the event.
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Columbus City officials are looking at creating a new photo identification card which could become an alternative to state-issued IDs.
The municipal ID wouldn't replace driver's licenses or other state-issued IDs but supporters of the idea said it could help people who often struggle to get a photo ID like seniors and low-income families.
"It just makes life a bit simpler for people who have trouble getting an ID," said Ed Hoffman with the citizen group One ID Columbus.
New York City was the first city to issue municipal IDs two years ago. One million New Yorkers now have one. They're able to use them to create a bank account, get city services or prove their identity to the police but they cannot use it to register to vote, buy alcohol or travel.
"Sometimes seniors or young people obviously can't get a driver's license," said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council Speaker who helped start the program. "This is a valid form of identification that is accepted only for use within the city of New York."
City leaders in Columbus are still trying to decide if this could work in Central Ohio. The Columbus ID could combine COTA bus passes, library card and other city services into one card.
"We are also very strong in the connections to cultural institutions, museums, the library, possibly in the future transit connections that could simplify all the different ID cards people own and put it into one single ID," said Tom Gearhart with One ID Columbus.
Survivors of domestic violence or homeless people could also get a municipal ID using a PO box. Supporters said it would also be available to undocumented immigrants.
"A program like this would be quick, simple and get them engaged back in our community so they can be looking for employment opportunities, so they can be contributing to our society," said Council Member Michael Stinziano.
Stinziano said the exact cost is still to be determined. Some cities offer the ID for free. He said it's possible some federal money from the Smart Cities Challenge could be used to pay for it.