‘So proud:' Minneapolis City Council approves municipal ID program

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved providing all city residents over the age of 13 with an identification card regardless of their immigration status.

The cards, known as municipal IDs because the program will be administered by the city, will allow undocumented residents to get the proof of residency needed to rent apartments, open bank accounts and buy medication. Despite critics who say the IDs will incentivize people to violate immigration laws, the council’s vote was unanimous.

“I’m very excited about the strong legacy this program will leave for our city that says, 'we are all welcome here,'” Council Member Alondra Cano, the lead sponsor of the legislation, told reporters at a news conference.

After the vote, supporters cheered in the council chamber. Later, a group took photos with Mayor Jacob Frey in a nearby room. One woman told Frey, in Spanish, that city government had just given her an early Christmas gift.

Cesar Prado, who immigrated from Ecuador and has lived and worked in Minneapolis for 20 years, said a municipal ID will help him. Prado said he’s questioned when he buys medication or picks up his niece from school because he doesn’t have proper identification.

“I’m so proud to be part of this. I’m so proud to be Minneapolis. So it’s emotional for everyone,” Prado said in an interview.

The city’s 2019 budget approved this week includes $200,000 to develop the municipal ID program and hire a coordinator. That initial work could take a year, said City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde.

“This is the beginning,” she said. “And we hope by the time next year’s budget comes along that we have identified what the rest of staffing or budget or technology needs are, so we can fully implement a program.”

Rivera-Vandermyde said city officials are planning to set up one location where residents can apply for a municipal ID. Certain questions remain to be worked out, including whether residents’ information will be archived, she said.

The Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed the legislation. City staff are now working with banks, restaurants and other businesses to recognize the IDs and offer discounts to those who have them.

There is no target launch date, Rivera-Vandermyde said.

“I’d love to give a date and throw a date out there but I think it would be irresponsible to do that,” she said. “But we’re going to be working as fast as we can because we have heard from community that delay is not what people are wanting.”

Card holders will have the option of adding a preferred name and self-designating their gender.

Supporters said it would benefit a variety of community groups.

“We have such a big group of immigrants in Minneapolis, diversity from all around the world, and we can do much better if we can come together united,” Prado said.