ID Idea Catches On

by Paul Bass | August 15, 2007 1:09 PM | | Comments (18)

i.d.%20card%20002.JPGThe overwhelming response to New Haven’s new immigrant-friendly ID card may inspire communities across the country to follow suit.

A New York City councilman has already introduced a proposal to replicate the New Haven experiment; close to half his colleagues signed on as co-sponsors.

Miami-Dade County is looking at a similar proposal. Meanwhile, activists or officials from California, Nevada, Kentucky, Maryland, Wisconsin and Arizona have contacted New Haven’s City Hall for more information on the plan to explore launching similar programs, according to Community Services Director Kica Matos, who designed the program.

New Haven launched the program last month. The city made national news by issuing new city ID cards to anyone who wanted one — including undocumented workers. (The cards also benefit teens and seniors, among others.)

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the city had fully processed 2,671 IDs since the program’s inception, IDs fully processed, 290 of them for children, according to mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga. Mayorga said the city has had to turn away 20 to 30 applicants a day because they live outside New Haven or otherwise didn’t qualify or have the right information.

The cards are designed to help people access city parks and libraries and open bank accounts, a major issue for immigrants who otherwise become easy prey for muggers. Immigrants stood in line as long as 12 hours at City Hall to obtain their cards in the opening days of the program. (Pictured above; click here to read about that.)

In the process, New Haven catapulted to the top of one of two opposing positions in the current national debate over the presence of millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

In the absence of an effective national policy on immigration, some local governments have passed laws aimed at arresting and deporting more immigrants or otherwise making their stays here as unpleasant as possible.

New Haven officials argue that their job is to welcome the immigrants who are here, help them become productive members of the community and avoid being victimized by crime.

“We’ve watched what New Haven has done,” said Wayne Mahlke, a staffer for New York City Councilman Hiram Monserrate. Monserrate introduced a New Haven-style municipal ID proposal on July 25. Twenty-three Council members signed on as co-sponsors; the Council has 51 members.

New York had already been considering an ID program, according to Mahlke. He said New Haven’s launch “gave us added support to proceed with this.” The bill hasn’t yet had a committee hearing because the Council’s committees don’t meet in July or August. Dozens of community groups have lined up behind the proposal. Click here to read a news story about one such group’s support; click here to read the text of the New York bill.

Proponents of New Haven-style programs are still in the research stage in other communities, like San Francisco, according to a staffer there. Advocates are talking with sympathetic lawmakers in Takoma Park, Maryland, about a plan. Inquiries have also come to Matos’s office from Madison, Wisconsin, among other cities.

The chairman of the of the Miami-Dade County Council, Bruno Barreiro, has also expressed interest in such a proposal. His staff has begun researching the idea after hearing from its Community Relations Board.

“It sounds like a really good idea,” said Amy Carswell, the board’s program officer. “We’re looking at New Haven as a model.” The County includes Miami and some three dozen other communities, with a combined total population of over two million.

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Posted by: THREEFIFTHS | August 15, 2007 2:28 PM

New Haven Officials Argue That Their Job Is To Welcome The Immigrants Who Are Being Victimized By Crime, This Is B.S. I Know One Town And That Is Newark New Jesrey Where The Community Is Furious That The Newark Police Department Has The Same Policy As The New Haven Police Department And That Is Not To Ask About The Immigrants Status. Do To The Fact That Newark Who Had One Of The Suspect Who Was Here Illegal And Who Had Committed A Crime And Was Give Bail And ICE Had A
Warrent To Deport Him, But Newark Police Has The Same Policy As Good Old New Haven Policys By King John That We Do Not Ask About A Person Immigrants Status. Also Read Today New York Times Another Suspect Has Ties To The Gang MS-13, I Hope Not But This May Come Back At A Later Time To Bite All
Of Us In The A. Also Because Of What Has Happen In Newark A Lot Of States Are Now Trying To Work With ICE Not Against Them.

Posted by: Albert Vosburn | August 15, 2007 2:48 PM

Paul - this is unsupportable. You are stretching an untruth so far, you are patently lying. The ID card is not wildly popular. It is not a spreading sensation like the yo-yo.

I, for one, who has admired your reporting of corrupt officials for years, can not believe the claptrap over illegal immigration now issuing from the point of your pen.

Don't swing for the fences on this one, Paul. You'll strike out. I am beginning to wonder about the verifiability of your past work on other subjects. And who else will?

Posted by: Taxed To Death | August 15, 2007 4:08 PM

This is the first time New Haven has been a model of anything -- that it is the illegal immigrant card for the rest of the country to emulate is hardly something to celebrate. Couldn't it have been something positive like higher test scores, turned around schools, a shrinking achievement gap, dropping tax rate, less youth crime, less black on black crime.

Celebrating this national achievement is like celebrating our failing schools - hooray -- we failed badly, but our "F" was not as bad as the "F" was last year. Talk about the celebration of low expectations. We really need to define and set our standards much higher than this.

Posted by: WEBbloger 1 | August 15, 2007 4:29 PM

Documenting illegal immigrants is not a bad idea, unless you happen to be a undocumented/ illegal immigrant who is foolish enough to sign up.
Perhaps, in the absence of a national policy, more cities should enlist a program and share the data. Maybe then, we won't need a national policy to blame when the --it hits the fan.

Posted by: Molly Wheeler [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 15, 2007 5:08 PM

Woo hoo, Elm City! I was proud to stand in line with residents of the city on the first day that it was available and I have used it to pay for parking and as a photo ID a few times already. I have also received emails from friends and colleagues from around the world, congratulating the city for making this a priority. New Haven's recognition of its moral obligation to all of its residents is a great model for other cities.

Considering the lines and excitement to get one, I'd call it an overwhelming response. On some days, it's overwhelmed the employees (though they remain friendly). They had to turn people away due to the office hours and in response they extended the hours.

As ever, no one seems to be talking about the reason for so many people's immigration to the United States. Regarding the people that don't support the ID cards, amnesty for immigrants, or trade reform: at what point does their nonacceptance turn to acceptance of everything that NAFTA provides for them? Of everything that makes so many people's lives unlivable?

Posted by: dana b | August 15, 2007 6:31 PM

The debate on illegal immigration, whether nationally or in the pages of the NHI spins on, full of fatuities. On the right you get apocalyptical visions of hordes running across the border, inundating Americans in a Spanish cacaphony; on the left, the ongoing myth of the illegal immigrants' beneficient contribution to America's economy, a system that seamlessly absorbs this labor with no ill effect to any citizen or legal resident.

Here's one citizen, neither hard-hearted nor xenophobic, who sees the city's id card as nothing to crow about. Rather, it is an emblem of how our federal government and we Americans have failed to find any meaningful consensus on immigration. It is folly to think New Haven can issue this card and not see an increase in illegal immigrants moving to this safer haven.

Will there be a huge influx? I don't know. But I do know that American towns and states near the Mexican border often can't provide adequate services to all their residents, legal or illegal. The tax dollars aren't there, in large part because a significant portion of the illegal workers aren't being paid on the books or aren't bothering to file taxes with their phony social security numbers. I don't see them as welfare bums or a drag on society, not at all. But common sense says that if it takes $22,000 per year to educate a child in New Haven's schools, then every child of an illegal immigrant who is not paying full taxes is costing all of us dearly. Is your diner meal cheaper, your carwash easier to afford? Great, because your parking tickets, rent, and home-owner property taxes are higher due to the number of people paying versus the number of people needing and using city and state services.

We need to come to grips with immigration -- what the U.S. economy's needs are, what we can stretch to offer those from poorer countries, how we can help Mexico and other feeder countries develop their economies at home. And we need to stop demonizing those who see a need for putting the brakes on illegal entry as racist and irrational. The left that welcomes immigrants with nary a thought to the consequences of that limitless flow needs to wake up and address meaningful reform. There will be hard choices to make. Let's not let our hearts overrule our heads.

Posted by: TrueBlueCT | August 16, 2007 12:21 AM

I can't believe the ugliness of some of the posters here!

Look, America has an immigration problem. Right now we have a status quo that basically welcomes cheap, undocumented labor into this country. (when was the last time an illegal employer went to jail?)

Given that reality, and the 12-15 million Hispanic workers who are here "unofficially", the question is, What, as Americans, are we to do about it.

Now I'm sure that some of the belligerent here want to deport every last worker, but common sense and reality says that is a practical impossibility.

So we are left with the status quo of an underclass of cheap labor, (undermining the workforce of American citizens, btw), OR we can take steps to move these people into the light with a path to a hard-earned citizenship.

I'm for the latter. And I'd suggest that if people don't like the current situation, they'd do better focusing on those who hire undocumented workers, than trying to criminalize those working Hispanics who are just trying to get ahead.

Anyway, hats off to New Haven and Mayor John DeStefano for taking the exceedingly humane step of simply recognizing the humanity of this class of people among us!

Posted by: The Trix Rabbit | August 16, 2007 12:46 AM

Taxed, you make a pretty good point. The ID card does not show how New Haven has successfully fixed all its problems; I don't think anyone is arguing that. The point of this article, which may or may not be accurate, is that many cities are following New Haven's lead in introducing identification that can benefit undocumented immigrants. I don't think Paul is trying to say that this has anything to do with New Haven's numbers--it won't directly raise test scores, and while it will affect crime, it isn't a deterrant. City hall is not making this argument either.

That said, New Haven does have higher test scores, which the Independent wrote about. It also has a budget surplus, addressing some of your more dire concerns in previous comments. There is still a long way to go, and New Haven is nowhere close to being a model city in test scores and other statistics like those. The model that New Haven has been providing is more associated with the programs and initiatives the city has taken to deal with the myriad problems we do have. The point is not that New Haven is the city of dreams; instead, we work towards good, creative solutions to troubles that we face.

Posted by: cedarhillresident [TypeKey Profile Page] | August 16, 2007 10:28 AM

I'm with you Molly Wha HOOO! The city did one thing right.

Posted by: dana b | August 16, 2007 10:59 AM


"I can't believe the ugliness of some of the posters here!"

What "ugliness"? The seven posters prior to your entry have stated their views and facts, but as far as I can tell, have not attacked any immigrants or disparaged them.

When I read your comment, I did wonder, however, if you preferred to attack the presumed racist, xenophobic, or nativist character of the messengers rather than come to grips with their arguments. If so, that would be in keeping with the worst aspect of the immigration debate -- one side demonizing most of the reformers as racist and the other side painting a picture of illegal immigrants as greedy and lawless.

Really, Trueblue, I've seen your usually enlightening posts elsewhere, and you can do better than that.

Posted by: Evan E. Brown | August 16, 2007 11:31 AM

Hey, Albert Vosburn - Paul never said it was "wildly popular," but the fact is that the program has far more supporters in the community than detractors. It was nearly unanimously voted in by the alders, the city's media has been supportive as a reflection of the general sentiment, and the program's critics are not only disproportionately vocal to make up for their lack of numbers, but in fact mainly hail from the suburbs, not the city itself. All of Paul's reporting in this piece - as with his other pieces - is factual and appropriately contextualized, and shame on you for calling him a liar. Again, I say shame: To say a journalist is "lying" is the most grievous slur you can proffer, and you sir are way, WAY out of line. Can you point out one single factual inaccuracy in the piece? If not, then shut your yap.

Posted by: Dana you are wrong! | August 16, 2007 12:49 PM

Actually, Dana the leadership of the anti-immigrant debate is filled with racists, anti-Catholics, and conspiracy nuts. Calling them that as opposed to "reformers" makes a lot of sense. You can check out lots of information in this regard right here:

Posted by: dana b | August 16, 2007 2:15 PM

To "Dana You Are Wrong!"

Yes, the leadership of the anti-immigrant groups that showed up at city hall in New Haven and that mounts the militia campaigns at the border is usually nativist and racist. They should be called out for their inaccuracies and hate-mongering. There are, however, many people throughout the U.S. and right here in New Haven who believe immigration reform is important. We are not anti-immigrant or even anti-illegal immigrant. We are anti-illegal immigration. We believe all sorts of measures could be taken to improve the situation and we don't all agree with one another. Here some things I support: enforcing laws against employers who flout them, increasing the quotas of legal immigrants substantially, offering graduated amnesty to those who are already here since deporting them now is impossible logistically and often cruel for humanitarian reasons, making a provision for gay couples to enter into domestic partnerships so that one doesn't have to leave his or her partner in the U.S., offering temporary work visas to people in seasonal jobs or for jobs for which there is currently a shortage of potential employees, and possibly building a better barrier along the border. I would only support the last item, if all the other actions did not substanially reduce the problem of illegal immigration.

Am I an anomaly in the immigration reform camp? I think not, but I and people like me are definitely not vocal enough. We look at this issue as one of future public policy tempered by current humanitarian concerns. Maybe we expected our Congresspeople to handle the issue with due care and balance. But so far, they and we pro-reform folks have not come to any workable consensus. Too bad it was Bush that pushed that immigration bill. It had a lot of decent aspects to it.

Posted by: Taxed To Death | August 16, 2007 5:02 PM

Once again, I wish people would read these posts for what they directly say, and not read into what posters write or lay your own interpretation on what is written.

Trix: I did not say or imply that anybody, including the mayor, that the ID card would showcase how we had successfully fixed our problems. In fact, my only point is that I wish we had a national reputation, were a national model for something other than illegal immigrant cards. Period. Nothing more.

The truth is these ID cards don't solve anything -they don't and won't make people safer; they won't magically open bank accounts - illegals could already have done that without city ID cards. This particular point about safety was part of the public hearing, the mayor's speech, certain alders, Junta and the Catholic Church who all dishonestly claimed this card would provide a mechanism so these folks would not have to carry large amounts of cash. It doesn't do that and they all knew it. It was a sales pitch.
Fact Checking:

1. New Haven has higher test scores, but as the rest of the story pointed out, they were still failing, just failing less than the year before. Many posted concerns over the seduction of low expectations that seems to permeate those running the school system. You're talking about whether test scores were an F or an F-.

2. New Haven budget surplus was achieved by gaming the system - delaying expenses, preposting 2007-08 tax payments and by a one time building permit fee for $3.2 million which was posted in the last days of the FY. I suggested the NHI look at how the surplus was achieved when 2 months prior, the city was reporting a $6.7 million deficit. The result posted by City Hall is a heroic $7.7 million swing in less than 60 days.

Posted by: Rizzo | August 16, 2007 7:35 PM

Good - keep it up. More ammunition for conservatives and moderates to keep the White House out of democratic hands! We love it!

Posted by: The Trix Rabbit | August 16, 2007 8:00 PM

First of all, there are issues with most budget reports that the vast majority of outsiders don't pick up on. You pointed out some of the ways our current budget picked up money; at the same time, some of the causes for our previous deficits were not entirely "up-front." Second of all, New Haven does not have the profile that the standard "model cities" do--so we make do with what we can, and try to make our behavior and programs admirable. One of these was the ID card program, although this wasn't the biggest achievement New Haven has had this year. The only reason this is even being talked about as a major milestone for this city is because it is controversial; otherwise, it is a more minor part of the work being done to fix New Haven's problems.

While our test scores are horrendous compared to the state average, they rose significantly, especially when viewed in light of the fact that New Haven is a city with many poverty-, crime-, and drug-related problems. The point is that we are fixing problems faster than, say, Bridgeport or Hartford. In that way, New Haven is a model city--it is foolish to compare it to West Hartford or other "models" like New York. (West Hartford here represents an extremely successful municipality with regard to its educational system)

Posted by: Dana you are wrong! | August 17, 2007 8:57 AM

Dana -- you are right.

Your belief stated in your second post in what the final outcome should be makes a whole lot of sense.

My only concern is with folks like yourself who believe in positive final outcomes who apparently expect that this will come about just through good sense in Congress. As we saw in the last immigration vote, good sense got trumped by the folks you acknowledge are "nativist and racist."

Activists need to fight locally to build a counter argument to those folks. They do this partially by showing that despite the loud voices of nativists and racists, there are communities that are finding other more positive solutions.

If activists don't fight back in this way they will be overwhelmed by the hate-mongers' loud voices. This is a lesson from every human and civil rights struggle.

To not take a stand locally won't result in positive change, it will at best result in the status quo and more likely in some of the disasterous policies proposed by the anti-immigrant fringe (and which you clearly oppose).

Posted by: Alan Felder | September 1, 2007 1:04 AM

After three college kids were murdered in Newark, New Jersey, allegedly by an illegal immigrant from Peru and a foreign national from Nicaragua, questions were asked about why those men were on the streets when they both had violent criminal histories. The answer was authorities in New Jersey didn't report the men or any other foreign criminal to the feds upon arrest. Newark Mayor Cory Booker said this.


BOOKER: My police officers do not have the time, nor would I want them to become immigration agents. If we start getting off on tangents, doing things that federal authorities or other authorities should be doing, we are undermining our ability to get the job done.


That statement is absurd. Mayor Booker should want the feds to remove criminal foreign nationals from the city. Yesterday Booker and every other mayor in New Jersey was ordered by Attorney General Anne Milgram to inform the feds about alien arrests. We applaud the AG and hope New Jersey officials obey her direction.

There is no doubt that America needs a federal law ordering cities like New York, Los Angeles, New Haven and other sanctuary places to inform ICE when foreign nationals are arrested for criminal activity, any criminal activity.

RelatedColumn Archive
The Tide is Turning in the Criminal Illegal Alien ControversyOnce again, Politics Trumps Public SafetyProtecting Criminal AliensAmerica vs. Elvira ArellanoExposing the MediaFull-page Talking Points Archive

Watch 'Talking Points' Watch 'Most Ridiculous' Show Info
Airs M-F at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET
E-mail the Show: Bill O'Reilly's Bio Talking Points Archive Interview Archive Signed Copies of 'The O'Reilly Factor' Book The law should be simple. If a non-citizen is arrested in a criminal case, ICE must be informed within 48 hours of that arrest. If the arresting agency fails to do that, federal charges could be lodged against those officials. Simple and devastating to criminal aliens would that law be. So why is the new law needed?

Well, Mayor Booker can't possibly know if an illegal alien in his city is on a terror watch list or what kind of crimes a person may have committed in his home country. The feds are in a position to know that.

Also the feds can detain foreign nationals if they're given low bail by stupid judges as was the accused killer Carranza in Newark. Again, there is no excuse for local officials to not help the feds track down bad guys. What's going on now is dangerous to every American.

So we call for every person in Congress to get behind the new criminal alien law and pass it quickly. Those who oppose such a law should explain themselves to the folks who are entitled to be protected from harm. It is my strong guess not many elected officials are going to oppose the new law, but some will quietly try it derail it. It is my job to expose that and I will.

Finally one presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has already gotten behind the movement and we call on all the other presidential candidates to do so. This is our campaign for the fall. We are going to get this law passed. And we will keep you posted, and that's "The Memo."

Most Ridiculous Item

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." Ever since I saw this singer Beyonce do a knockout rendition of the national anthem at the Super Bowl, I've been a fan.

But the woman is having a real hard time on the concert tour this summer. In Toronto, her shirt flipped up, exposing her chest in the middle of a dance number. Talk about air conditioning.

Anyway, Beyonce bouncing around, went on with the show, and the audience definitely got their money's worth, which of course, is never ridiculous.

Wear something under there, Beyonce.

--You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on Send your comments to:

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