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Emotions still run high over ID card

Resource type: News

The New Haven Register |

Original Source By William Kaempffer, Register Staff NEW HAVEN – It took nearly 2 1/2 hours, but an aldermanic committee Tuesday ultimately voted to authorize the acceptance of funding for the city’s much-debated municipal identification card. While the Finance Committee vote was unanimous, there was no consensus among the roughly 200 people who attended the public hearing. We try so hard in this city to bring people together, said the Rev. James Manship, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Fair Haven, a mainly Latino parish with a sizable number of immigrants. Forces from outside … are trying to divide people. I urge you not to succumb to hate, Kenneth Brown, the director of the Chicago-based Center for a New Community, a national faith-based organization, told the panel. Labor leaders, clergy, city officials and immigration advocates, among others, passionately urged the panel to authorize acceptance of the funding, arguing that the card has been successful beyond expectations and now is modeled in other cities. Dustin Gold, of the Community Watchdog Group, an anti-illegal immigrant group and opponent of the card, came to Tuesday’s meeting under no illusion that he would convince the finance committee to reject funding. The future of the card would be hashed out in Superior Court or in the next mayoral election, he said outside the aldermanic hearing room in City Hall. Instead, he said, he came to caution the city about its bedfellows. Of the $150,000 of private funding, $25,000 was coming from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a philanthropic foundation that he said is examining the viability of the opening of borders between all North American Free Trade Agreement Countries for migration. They should go find the $25,000 somewhere else, Gold said. I don’t think they should be taking money from that group. The ID card, which is available to all city residents regardless of immigration status, has been a lightning rod since its inception last year, with supporters lauding its inclusiveness and detractors decrying the issuance of IDs. The city has been careful to stress that no public funds are used to finance the project. Kica Matos, the head of the city’s Community Services Administration, said more than $210,000 has been raised for Year Two of the program, about $60,000 in fees collected from the issuance of the cards and $150,000 from three foundations: J.M. Kaplan, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Four Freedom Funds. Even before the meeting started, police handcuffed and arrested one member of Gold’s group who has allegedly been sending harassing e-mails about and to Matos, she said. A member of the mayor’s staff got word that Community Watchdog Group member Armand Serio had an unrelated arrest warrant outstanding in Milford, police said. Officer David Hartman verified it and arrested Serio in aldermanic chambers. So far, the city has issued 6,858 cards, including 1,120 to children. This year, the CSA hoped to implement more outreach, a mechanism to measure impact of the card and, hopefully, a debit-card function where users can use the cards as a virtual bank account and make purchases, Matos said. That would go a long way, said police Lt. Luiz Casanova, to help prevent immigrants from being victimized by criminals who recognize that undocumented immigrants often carry cash because they can’t legally open bank accounts. Casanova oversees the Fair Haven neighborhood where he estimates at least a quarter of the residents are undocumented. The perpetrators in our community have identified these folks as walking ATMs, he said. The cards have gone a long way to building trust between that community and police, Casanova said. © 2008, a Journal Register Property

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