Immigrants, Supporters Pour in For ID

by Melissa Bailey | July 24, 2007 3:44 PM | | Comments (14)

IMG_9479.JPGWhen City Hall opened its doors for the first members of the public to sign up for the city’s controversial new ID card, so many people showed up that the line — including many undocumented immigrants— still snaked down the hallway at closing time.

By day’s end, officials reported that 250 people signed up for their Elm City Residency Card. The office stayed open an hour later to accommodate some of the extra crowd; others were told to return on Wednesday.

Visitors signing up for the city’s new Elm City Residency Card passed through a gauntlet of protesters on the way into City Hall. The line included undocumented Mexican immigrants, like Jaime Rojas and (pictured with Ruby Diaz), who saw the card as an “opportunity” for a safer life.

Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. commended undocumented immigrants for their “courage” in enduring the suburban hecklers on their way in. “Tell me who represents the best of America — who’s outside or who’s inside,” he said.

Organizers called the turnout a success: “There were a lot more people than we expected,” said mayoral staffer Emily Byrne.

The office, on City Hall’s first floor, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays for people wishing to obtain a card.

After a soft launch Monday, city officials kicked off the program officially Tuesday morning with a ribbon-cutting at the new Office of New Haven Residents inside City Hall. The new ID card, available to all city residents regardless of immigration status, facilitates access to a range of municipal services and serves as a photo ID. (Click here to read more about it.)

The city created the program because U.S. legislators “don’t have the will to pass a coherent border strategy,” the mayor said Tuesday. Instead legislators have allowed immigrants to move here, but forced them to be “invisible,” said the mayor.

The card, which offers a range of services to people of all ages, was conceived as a symbolic gesture of recognition and a way give immigrants acceptable ID to open bank accounts, so that they won’t be easy prey for robbers. DeStefano urged those who live in the city to support one another by getting the card.

IMG_9453.JPG“Service to one another to help one another, more than waving the American flag, defines the spirit of the American soul,” said the mayor (pictured), alluding to the flag-toting protesters outside who denounced immigrants as a threat to American jobs.

Would the card bring an influx of new immigrants to the city? reporters wanted to know. DeStefano said immigrants move “not for a piece of plastic, but for the opportunity to work.”

West River Alderman Yusuf Shah heralded the program: “We believe that services should be given to everyone equally, to everyone.” Two days after aldermen approved the ID plan with an overwhelming 25 to 1 vote, federal immigration agents swept the city, arresting 32 people whom they charged were illegal immigrants. In the terror that followed, parents were afraid to leave their homes to pick up their kids from school. Some said that sense of fear would scare immigrants away from signing up for an ID.

IMG_9469.JPGPasqual Rojas (pictured at left), who came here illegally from Mexico 14 years ago, said he wasn’t afraid. “I want to be part of New Haven,” he said in Spanish. The card would be signify “they respect us as citizens of New Haven.”

Many of the immigrants who showed up said they were encouraged to come by Father Jim Manship of St. Rose of Lima Church in Fair Haven.

IMG_9484.JPGAs protesters outside argued over whether illegal immigrants were stealing low-paying jobs from American citizens, the Rev. Boise Kimber (pictured) stood inside awaiting his ID. He didn’t see illegal immigrants as a threat to those in poorer neighborhoods of the city. “We rely on them to do jobs that no one else desires to do,” he said.

Kimber said he was supporting the ID because “it is every religious leader’s moral obligation to stand up for the disenfranchised… I do not want people to suffer as African-Americans did when they came to this country.”

IMG_9467.JPG“If you look on the coin, it says ‘E Pluribus Unum’ — so they’re right on the money!” said Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh (pictured at left) before snapping a photo for his city ID. The Yale Law School, through professors Bob Solomon and Mike Wishnie and the Yale law clinics, has pledged to represent the city in any legal battle over the ID.

Of those who oppose the plan, Koh said: “I’m not sure how their life is diminished by people being able to prove they’re part of the city.”

IMG_9481.JPGLou Gold (pictured at left) is part of a group that claim the ID is a conspiracy hatched by the mayor to profit from a new community bank. Gold stood in line anyway because his friend, Mike Buchina (pictured at right), thought an ID card would help him open a bank account.

The group claims DeStefano will profit from the ID because he is on the board of directors at the First City Fund Corp, a $25 million fund formed as a benefit to the community when the New Haven Savings Bank got converted into NewAlliance Bank. The mayor said he would probably sit on the board of directors of the new community bank, which has agreed to let patrons open a new bank account using the Elm City ID.

DeStefano dismissed the issue as a bogus argument veiling underlying bigotry. “There is no compensation whatsoever” to board members, he said. “[Protesters] are afraid to articulate their ignorance and their prejudice about this population, so what they do is they lie. They lie, and they cloak themselves in the American flag as they do it.”

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Posted by: nfjanette [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 24, 2007 4:46 PM

Pasqual Rojas (pictured at left), who came here illegally from Mexico 14 years ago, said he wasn't afraid. "I want to be part of New Haven," he said in Spanish. The card would be signify "they respect us as citizens of New Haven."

A good first step would be for Mr. Rojas to learn enough English - after 14 years residency, for gosh sake - to be able to speak those words in the language of the country in which he resides. Despite what some Latino political groups would have him believe, that language is English.

Posted by: Netram | July 24, 2007 5:30 PM

Lawless Liberals gone wild. Thumbing their nose at our laws. What a wonderful example they are setting for our children.

Posted by: king james v | July 24, 2007 5:47 PM

If mr. rojas wants to be in new haven so much, why hasn't he learned to speak english after being here for 14 years?
And the right wing nut jobs out front - how did you grow up two miles away from me and be so far away from reality?
This has brought out the worst of everyone in town, and mayor johnny thinks it's great.
Well, i went today with my utility bills, passport, check book and $11 cash money (its a buck to have the i.d. sent to your place, you don't get to walk out with it like at the d.m.v.).
at 1:00 pm i was asked to leave and come back menyana by a very nice, and noticably frazzeled security man. i waited for 15 minutes to talk to people who had gotten their picture taken, and in that time only two people had been processed. i was told in all 300 people had come today. Now, at 300 people a day it would take about TWO YEARS for all of us new haveners to get our i.d. cards, the program has been funded for how long, one? this whole thing is a disaster. the left wing nutjobs are idiots, the right wing wackos are stupid.
just stop this now. stop it.

Posted by: John Campbell | July 24, 2007 6:35 PM

Board member of the bank that is issuing the cards? Good enough reason not to run for re-election. I am sure his heart is in the right help the poor defenseless illegal.

Posted by: Rizzo | July 24, 2007 8:15 PM

Looks like more of the crowd that showed up were hacks of the administration - Boise Kimber, Professor Solomon, and city hall staffers. No doubt DeStefano rounded up his city workers and political supporters to give the place some buzz on its first day. As for Yale Dean Harold Koh, who incredibly asks how the ID program "diminishes" any one's life, I suggest he consider whether existing in an ivory tower makes him ignorant of the numerous victims of illegal aliens and their brokers who are responsible for, among many other crimes, the surge in identity theft crimes. Perhaps Koh should have someone glom HIS social security number and then once he endures the nightmare of straightening out the mess, he won't be so blithely "progressive and enlightened". As a law school dean, it is revolting for Koh to openly back faculty members who aid and abet lawbreakers and take affirmative acts to shield fugitives from capture. He sets a poor example for respect for the nation's laws. For their personal involvement in shielding criminal aliens and those arrested from being identified to INS for deportation, I say the first victim of a crime by one of these aliens should sue Koh, Solomon and every one of these aider and abettors for negligence. Maybe some Yale law student will volunteer for such a progressive law suit.

Posted by: Bill Saunders | July 24, 2007 8:57 PM

Look at it this way -- if every New Havener was to get one of these ID's at $10 a pop, we could fooly fund the Shartenburg Site giveaway and have enough money left over to fund the next fiscal year of expanded trolley service.

See -- it was win, win, win all along.

Posted by: Bill Saunders | July 24, 2007 10:17 PM

Is there an expiration date on this ID (I didn't see one in the mock up), or do we all become New Haven citizens forever? (that's one way to grow the population)

Are these ID's acceptable identification to buy liquor or cigarettes?

How about if I move -- is there a little sticker to put on my ID that shows my new new haven address? Do I have to pay another $10?

Why should I pay $10 at all? I am already a New Haven Taxpayer! Last I checked library cards were free! Are we charging for library cards now?

The only way I see these cards being legit is if there is a disclaimer on the back that says,
"For Amusement only -- Use at your own risk."

Posted by: Two2Three [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 25, 2007 8:03 PM

For the nonresidents of New Haven who hate the fact that the city appreciates immigrants - maybe if you moved to our fair city and lived in an integrated neighborhood you'd learn that diversity is cool.

Fo those who whine about lawbreakers, George Washington sure broke a few laws - the King's laws. Abraham Lincoln broke the laws of slavery. And on the other hand, the Bush Administration has broken every law it can get its slimy hands on, violated the Constitution and thumbed its nose at all of us. So instead of attacking the weak, go for the powerful. Show how brave you are.

Posted by: Dean Moriarty | July 25, 2007 10:29 PM

You've got a point about diversity, Two2Three. I grew up in a integrated neighborhood in the 1950's, and looking back on it, it was idyllic. I had many friends of all persuasions. We all got along. Sure there were the occasional fistfights, but it was a "kid" thing, not ethnics issues. It was a beautiful world then.

Fast forward to now and you'll find a different story. That's the reality. Who throws their empty dope bags, used rubbers, dirty kleenex and napkins, empty syringes and myriad other things I'm not sure what even are onto my lawn? I'm pretty sure it's not my neigbors, as they're out there picking up (with gloves) the same items. Who are the 15 year olds circling cars with their bikes on Grand Ave. and mugging people? Who are the nice folks speeding and crashing (and injuring innocent folk) unlicensed and unregistered cars on the streets of our city? You tell me.

I am in no way suggesting that these acts/crimes are all being committed by illegal (not "undocumented") immigrants. Rather, I am saying that this Administration would be all the wiser to put their resources into addressing these concerns instead of this ID program. Having bought into the idea of home-ownership in New Haven 20 years ago, I feel betrayed by DeStefano's administration. Take care first of the people that are supporting our City, or at the very least, placate them.

After 55 years of living in the Elm City I am looking to the oppurtunity to sell and move, to somewhere where they don't just take our money and tell us to bend over.

Posted by: cedarhillresident [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 26, 2007 3:02 PM

Two2Three you put it perfectly!!

Dean Moriarty do you blame diversity for the filth in our streets??? I am one of those people picking up that same stuff off my street. I do blame the police for not closing down the propertys that deal drugs but I have to be honest.... it is the DANG out of towners that are parking on my street!! the guys that pick up the working women and parking on my street are white guys not from my area!! The people that we chase off my street are not of color!! They are people that come to New Haven to get what there nice communities do not have. I have watched Parks Dept employees throw there lunch garbage onto the street!! SBC employees, comast and other people that pull over and eat lunch just throw there garbage out there windows!! I am sicked over it!! But that has nothing to do with undocumented people!!

The ID card is going to help with some of the problems!! It is going to included the undocumented people in our communities. They will now feel that they belong!! They will now be able to have a vested interest in the areas they live. It will allow them the pride to care about new haven, and to not have the fear to stop crimes or be victims of them.

I stand by this card because the Federal Goverment has not offered any help as of yet!! Untill they come up with something our city has a small thing that can help!!
But you are right about the higher ups in the city needing to address the problems instead of trying to skirt the situation that our city is in!!

Posted by: Alfred Martin | July 26, 2007 3:15 PM

From the Hazelton opinion, knocking down the anti-illegal immigrant law:

"Whatever frustrations ... the city of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme," Judge Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion.

While a different jurisdiction, this is precisely the idea that will eventually put to death this ridiculous, unlawful scheme of the City of New Haven.

And Harold Koh is simply shameful. A former federal official boasting of his support for a plan that contradicts and contravenes the letter and spirit of long-standing federal regulation.

Instead, he should insist New Haven turn over the personal data of those illegal immigrants who applied to the INS for immediate processing.

Posted by: Taxed To Death | July 26, 2007 3:26 PM

It's interesting to note that once again, Mayor DeStefano shrilly attacks his opponents as he he has done with YNHH, New Haven Savings a/k/a New Alliance, those who tried to save the coliseum and others.

"They lie, lie lie," DeStefano says, and "cloak themselves in the flag while they do it." He was referring to the protestors and those who raised the issue of his potential compensation as a director of the as yet to be formed Community Bank.

Excuse me, Mayor -- but I'm really tired of your bully rhetoric. From Shartenburg, to YNHH, to the cancer center, to New Alliance to the coliseum to the cop shop debacle to ward politics -- it's always the same. Denigrate, bully and push around anybody who questions your rationale for governing.

The lies, sir, are are found not in the protesters, but in those words and reasons used to enact this silliness from the beginning. Here's what DeStefano, Junta, Manship and Matos all said:

1. Illegal immigrants have to carry cash because they don't have access to banks - wrong. For more than a year now, Bank of America and others have allowed illegals to open bank accounts, get mortgages, even personal loans. In fact, immigrants both legal and illegal typically carry more cash than others as a matter of culture. Changing that will take a hell of a lot more than a plastic ID card.

2. These cards will allow people to open bank accounts. Wrong -- they are ID only. Bank policy will dictate whether they get to open accounts.

3. This illegal immigrant card is a response to the federal government not passing a comprehensive immigration policy that allows legalization of illegals. Wrong. This card has nothing to do with it, and had the feds passed such a law, this card would still be around.

4. Illegals do jobs no American wants to do. Wrong. Out West, when ICE raided a meat packing plant which was subsequently shut down, more than 1,000 legal immigrants and other Americans applied for the jobs. Here in New Haven, one of those arrested worked in a bakery, making $11 and hour. That's decent pay - over $400 a week -- there are plenty of people who would work for that amount of money.

5. Who represents America best? Those outside or inside? Wow...Non-voting, non-citizens, non-taxpaying, non-military serving people represent America better? Thanks, Johnny -- that's a new low.

6. And finally, there is always the potential for the mayor to make money and receive compensation for serving on the board. There may be no money now --- but the bank board can always change that, and it can grant him stock or favorable terms. It is a conflict and he has no business being part of it.

Posted by: Common Sense | July 26, 2007 3:44 PM

I went to City Hall this morning to get my ID Card. I was amazed at the number of people in line that wrapped around the lobby. Many will wait for hours while many will leave with frustration. There were young children sitting and standing in the lines getting impatient with the long wait. People were still coming in the door making the line longer and longer. I looked into the Tax Office and only saw two people paying their tax before the August 1st deadline. I checked out the Assessor's Office - no line at all. I decided to wait a few months before coming back for my ID card. My unexpired Driver's License will hold me over until then.

Posted by: camperdude | August 8, 2007 11:12 PM

Thanks a lot New Haven. Soon the nutjobs in my town (San Francisco) will be pushing for the same thing. one of my life goals is to visit every state in the union and I still need to do Connecticut but there is no way in HELL that I will ever step foot in your town. Ever.

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