This week, the Strategic Planning & Government Operations Committee of the Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously passed a resolution in support of creating an Identification Card for all county residents. The resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Juan Carlos Zapata and co-sponsored by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, asks the County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to present a report to the County Board on whether an identification card program is feasible. Within the next few weeks, the resolution could be brought to the full County Commission Board and, if approved, the Mayor will have 180 days to present the report, until December 2015.
Several community groups and organizations in Miami-Dade attended the Committee meeting and gave testimony of what this resolution means for thousands of county residents. The Miami Workers Center, in coalition with WeCount!, the Farmworker Association of Florida, United Families, Catalyst Miami, and others, have been advocating for years for a Municipal ID that could be used county wide.
“We are really proud of having a County Commission working towards the benefit of all Miami Dade residents,” says Rosana Araujo, an undocumented immigrants living in Miami for 14 years, and Vice-President of the Miami Workers Center. “As a survivor of domestic violence, and an immigrant without status, this would benefit women like myself.”
As Miami-Dade’s population continues to diversify and be composed of a large proportion of immigrant and low-income families, there is a high number of people who do not have standard identification. These people are less likely to report crimes to the police and more likely to be victims of crime; they also confront more obstacles to access both public and private services, such as banks and libraries. While they constitute a large portion of our county’s workforce, the barriers they encounter to saving and spending money limits their capacity to contribute as fully as they could to our county’s economy and community.
“We thank the Commissioners for taking a step in the right direction for the benefit of our communities. We want to express our gratitude to the members of the Committee who heard our testimonies, in particular to Commissioner Zapata, for being the prime sponsor of the resolution to potentially issue Miami-Dade County Identification Cards to us residents,” said Trenise Bryant, an African-American county resident and President of the Miami Workers Center.
Farmworkers could be one of the groups to benefit from a County ID. “Having an ID in their hands is a way to stop abuses against farmworkers by employers and local law enforcement, “ says Elvira Carvajal, Organizer with the Farmworker Association of Florida in Homestead. “Many farmworkers who are either undocumented or green card holders, can’t access a document that identifies them, even passports from their own country of origin, and it limits their daily life by not being able to take their children to school or visit a loved one at the hospital.”
If Miami-Dade creates a county ID, it will join a dozen other cities and counties throughout the country who have taken this initiative, including Aventura (FL), Los Angeles (CA), Oakland (CA), New York (NY), Washington, D.C., and New Haven (CT), among others.