Detroit launched a municipal identification card program Wednesday, aimed at helping the city’s most vulnerable access basic city services, MLive reports. The ID cards are available to all city residents 14 and older, regardless of their immigration or housing status, criminal record or gender identity, factors that could make getting a traditional ID like a driver’s license difficult.
“We’re trying to build a city where everybody is included, where everybody is valued and everybody can access the basic services of this city in a way that doesn’t cause them stress,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at the announcement.
The ID cards should help holders open checking and savings accounts, apply for jobs and housing, enroll their children in school, and access other city services. Homeless residents, undocumented immigrants, citizens returning from prison, and young people who delay getting their driver’s licenses may struggle with these tasks without ID. Officials also hope the program will facilitate better interactions with the police, health department, Detroit Land Bank Authority and medical centers. The municipal IDs do not, however, serve as voter ID cards or as driver’s licenses.
“It doesn’t make you eligible for things you weren’t eligible for, but what it does do is say very clearly what we are: We’re Detroiters, and we say it emphatically and in a way that’s going to be accepted,” said Duggan.
As with New York City’s IDNYC, started in 2014, local businesses and cultural institutions are also offering discounts to cardholders. In Detroit, these include AMC Theaters and the YMCA. The IDs will cost $25 for adults 18 or older, and $10 for youth ages 14 to 17 and for seniors 62 and up.
On the same day that Detroit announced its launch, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC council announced that starting in January, the city will no longer retain personal documents submitted by applicants to IDNYC. DNAInfo reports that the move comes after two Republican Assembly members sued the city to retain that data.
President Barack Obama’s administration has shown no interest in going after the data in search of undocumented immigrants. But given President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise that he’d deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, de Blasio said Wednesday he would consider deleting already submitted data soon.
The two suing Assembly members called such a move “unconscionable.”
“Plain and simple, this administration is playing politics with the safety and security of the very citizens they are tasked to protect and Assemblyman [Ron] Castorina and I are going to fight it all the way,” Nicole Malliotakis said in a statement.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.