Skip to main content

ID Card $$$ Approved

Resource type: News

New Haven Independent |

by Melinda Tuhus New Haven’s immigrant-friendly ID card – which this woman said has led newcomers to learn English faster – got a delayed OK for its second year of funding. The Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee unanimously voted Tuesday night to approve the city’s acceptance of $150,000 in grants from three private foundation to run the second year of the ID card program. The cards offer residents to access to libraries and other city services and can serve as a second form of ID to open bank accounts. The resolution called for the board to accept $75,000 from Atlantic Philanthropies, $50,000 from the Four Freedoms Funds and $25,000 from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. The resolution now goes to the full Board of Aldermen for approval. The program costs $210,000 a year to run. The rest of the budget for the coming year is derived from $60,000 in sales from the cards. The city has issued 6,858 cards to date. The Finance Committee delayed a vote on approving the money at a meeting last month when no one from City Hall’s Community Services Administration showed up at a quiet meeting to testify. That gave opponents a month to organize a few members to show up at Monday night’s meeting to blast the program. Close to 200 people showed up to support the ID card during Tuesday night’s standing-room only meeting. A few dozen testified, almost all in favor. Hannah Greaves, who runs education programs at Junta for Progressive Action, was one of them. Greaves said once Latino residents obtain the ID cards, more of them have started using the Fair Haven branch library. Many of them, even though our building is right across the street from the library, had never been to the library because they didn’t know they were allowed to go, she told the Finance Committee. So, once the ID cards came out, more and more people – Latinos of whatever status – started feeling more welcome and like they could participate in the library. And as someone who’s in charge of English as a Second Language and GED, I can tell you how valuable that is, that they can go and use resources in the library and get more civically involved through the library’s programs. Greaves added that a new rule requires students in New Haven adult education classes to be residents of the city in order to get free tuition to the classes. The ID card has made that an easier task. She claimed that without the card, asking potential students to produce identification might have made them suspicious or fearful, and some would have abandoned the program. Bishop Peter Rosazza (on the left in the picture) testified that the issuance of the cards for all the city’s residents falls under the umbrella of the common good. No longer do they have to fear break-ins, beatings and robberies, he said, because the card allows residents to use the debit feature and not carry large amounts of cash. Furthermore, the ID helps immigrants, and especially the undocumented, to appreciate their own dignity as they struggle in a country that has not generally been welcoming to newcomers. He added that such integration would allow immigrants to contribute to their new community as well. A handful of opponents of the ID card – members of Community Watchdog, a group opposed to illegal immigration – also came to the hearing. Alan Felder, a New Haven member of the largely suburban group, explained his position while waiting for a chance to testify. We have African-Americans as America’s underclass, still today, he said. How can you allow or accept another country’s underclass to compete with your underclass that’s already here? A member of Community Watchdog was arrested as he sat in the chamber on an unrelated warrant out of Milford. He had allegedly sent harassing emails to Community Services Administrator Kica Matos, the city’s point person for the ID card program. She laid out her goals for the coming year: to engage in aggressive outreach to different neighborhoods; to implement a mechanism to measure the effectiveness and impact of the card in the community at large; and to implement technology that will allow the card to serve as a virtual bank account.”

Related Resources


Human Rights & Reconciliation, Immigration & Migration

Global Impact:

United States


ID cards, New Haven