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Cincinnati City Council Approves Photo IDs For Vulnerable Populations, Including Undocumented Immigrants

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By a 5 to 1 vote Wednesday, Cincinnati’s City Council approved a resolution authorizing photo IDs for undocumented immigrants, homeless persons, and other vulnerable populations.

Local groups say the cards — which would not take the place of driver’s licenses and would serve for ID purposes only — are the first of their kind in an Ohio city.

The cards would serve as an important bridge in connecting vulnerable populations with agencies, such as the local police department. Immigrant oftentimes fear contacting police in order to report crimes due to lacking proper identification.

“Vulnerable citizens, returning citizens, non-driving senior citizens and others who lack the ability to obtain a state-issued ID are often reluctant to report crimes, even when they’ve been victimized personally,” said Mayor John Cranley in a press conference before the City Council’s vote.

“Having an ID that will encourage people to report crimes will make our city safer.”

According to Cincinnati.com, “no database would be kept, and documents required to obtain a card would be returned to the applicant without being duplicated or logged.” Already in Columbus, other advocates are working on winning similar cards for their community.

One undocumented immigrant told Cincinnati.com that the card would help him start a business selling frozen desserts. Right now, he said, “I can’t get space because I don’t have a state ID.”

Local ID cards have been proven to be hugely successful in cities across the nation, including New Haven, Connecticut and New York, New York. In the latter, over 100,000 city residents — undocumented and documented — use municipal ID cards in their daily lives.