Proposed Minneapolis municipal ID program moves forward to City Council

Minneapolis could soon join the ranks of other major cities like New York City, Detroit and Chicago with a municipal ID program that gives people with any immigration status an ID to participate in civic and community activities.

The proposal made it out of committee and will go in front of the full City Council next month. If approved, city leaders say it gives people who are undocumented, homeless and/or transgender a chance to be included.

Monday afternoon, more than 50 people stood in front of some members on the City Council to share their experiences of coming to Minnesota as immigrants and not being able to do basic things, like open a bank account or book a doctor's appointment because they could not obtain an ID.

“We want to be a part of this community we need an identification to know who every single person is,” said one man at the meeting.

Others, like Lovita, have much more urgent reasons for this municipal ID program. Since she didn't have any identification, she felt too afraid to contact police after suffering from domestic violence years ago.

“During those years I’ve experienced domestic violence and I was afraid to call police, but I couldn’t call the police—I was afraid at that time,” she said.

Minneapolis city leaders are considering an ID program that would give people as young as 13 years old a card with their information on it. It could potentially be used with Metro Transit, banks and even law enforcement agencies.

“One of the primary benefits is that our Minneapolis Police Department is going to accept the ID as a form of identification and so we feel like that will increase safety and trusting relationships between our local police,” said Councilwoman Alondra Cano.

Councilwoman Cano says this program has been successful in other major cities as well as smaller communities like Northfield, Minn.

“In times of great division, we feel like we really need something to rally around as a symbol of us being welcoming folks in Minneapolis and being proud of all the amenities and safety and connections that we share as a community,” said Councilwoman Cano.

Councilwoman Cano said they have set aside $200,000 in the budget to launch this program. Critics say the cards would mainly benefit people who don't have legal immigration status. 

If approved next month, the cards will likely be handed out at the end of next year.