Advocates warn against the devastating effects of banning community-issued IDs

Edy Zoo
Proposed ban on alternative IDs in NC could leave vulnerable communities in limbo, warn immigrant advocates.Photo byImage by amykins from Pixabay

RALEIGH, NC. - As North Carolina lawmakers consider House Bill 167, proposed legislation prohibiting police officers and local governments from recognizing alternative IDs as valid, advocates for immigrant communities warn of dire consequences.

Community IDs, issued by organizations such as FaithAction, provide an essential lifeline for over 15,000 North Carolina residents who cannot obtain state licenses due to a lack of necessary documentation. These IDs allow them to access medical care, participate in community activities, and carry out daily tasks such as picking up children from school or obtaining a library card.

Mara González, deputy director of the nonprofit El Pueblo, emphasized that these IDs are meant to help people get around in everyday life but cannot be used to vote or access federal benefits. She added that community IDs are a last-ditch solution for people who cannot obtain state-issued IDs and that limiting their use could devastate families.

Supporters of the bill argue that community-issued IDs pose security risks for communities. However, FaithAction explained that program participants must attend an orientation on the card's benefits and limitations and sign a straightforward Memorandum of Understanding before receiving an ID.

According to research, community IDs reduce people's fear of interacting with law enforcement, and witnesses and victims of crime are more likely to speak with police if they have one. With this in mind, advocates for immigrant communities warn that limiting the use of these IDs could leave vulnerable populations in limbo.

Immigrants who are undocumented or have been living in the country for a short period may not have access to the documentation necessary to obtain a state-issued ID. This includes victims of domestic violence, who may have fled their abusers with only the clothes on their backs, leaving behind critical documents.

Banning the use of community IDs could also harm businesses that rely on immigrant customers. For example, local entrepreneurs operating in immigrant communities have expressed concern that customers without a valid ID may be unable to conduct business, leading to financial losses for both the business and the community.

In addition to the negative economic impact, advocates warn that the bill could lead to increased distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. González emphasized that it is essential to find a compassionate way to ensure that communities are safe and that people are who they say they are without jeopardizing the well-being of vulnerable populations.

As North Carolina lawmakers weigh the pros and cons of the proposed bill, immigrant advocates are urging them to consider the real-life consequences of limiting the use of community IDs. These IDs are not a loophole for undocumented individuals to gain access to federal benefits or the right to vote but a critical tool for those seeking to lead an everyday life without fear of discrimination or harassment.

What impact do you think the proposed legislation to ban alternative IDs could have on vulnerable communities, and what steps do you think lawmakers should take to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents in North Carolina? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee to support my work.

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Edy Zoo is an author who writes about social subjects. He contributes to the ever-growing library of social critics. He approaches local social subjects and local news covering Auburn-Opelika and surrounding cities from an objective point of view. He also holds liberal views.

Auburn, AL

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