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Posted on Aug 22, 2016 |

Alternate ID Card Now Available

Alternate ID Card Now Available

 

City of Cincinnati Police and Fire departments will benefit from a new, alternative ID card developed by a coalition of religious groups, its members say.

City of Cincinnati Police and Fire departments will benefit from a new, alternative ID card developed by a coalition of religious groups, its members and supporters say. Photo courtesy the City of  Cincinnati.

 

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Key Player in ID Developed by Religious Coalition

 

An ID card for people who don’t have or can’t get a state ID became available Saturday.

 

Developed by a coalition of religious groups including the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which will help to process and issue the cards, the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati (MARCC) ID is designed to provide emergency and other identification to people who don’t have one for a variety of reasons.

 

MARCC IDs cost $15 and applicants must provide a photo ID and proof or residence (such as a bill for rent or utilities). The photo ID may be expired — such as an expired driver’s license from an American state or foreign country, or a passport.

 

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, about 350 people signed up for the card Saturday. Most, the newspaper reported, were “undocumented immigrants.”

 

MARCC IDs are meant to be temporary said Tony Steiritz, director of the Catholic Social Action Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Many people, including refugees from countries wracked by war and Americans who have moved among many states, find it difficult or impossible to obtain birth certificates and other documentation.

 

City Manager Harry Black signed an executive order recognizing the ID, which City Council also approved by a vote of 5-1 this spring.

 

Opponents say that the cards are an illegal parallel system to existing state and federal cards, legitimize people who are in the country illegally, and will interfere with people tracking down and receiving documents that are necessary for them to have for the legal state IDs. They also object to MARCC’s decision not to keep copies of the IDs presented.

 

The coalition says the cards will help police, fire, medical and other personnel determine who who people are and where they live, and will provide a vital service to people whose lives are often lived in precarious circumstances.

 

The sole, initial purpose of the ID card is to give a valid form of identification that would be accepted by all City of Cincinnati departments, including the police, unless where state and federal law would require otherwise,” Sieritz, told The Catholic Beat.

 

“Many populations residing in the city — primarily certain immigrants, those reentering society from prison, and the homeless — can’t acquire a state ID, because they lack the proper documentation for it. Either they never had it to begin with or they have misplaced it in the turmoil of their lives.”

 

This includes many refugees and other people here legally, he said, who sometimes must wait months or years for state and federal paperwork to be verified and processed, as well as people who are homeless and people who have served time in prison and allowed their temporary IDs to expire. When these Cincinnati residents have medical emergencies, or are suspected of or victims of crimes, police and medical personnel cannot immediately verify who they are or where they live.

 

“The Archdiocese has experienced too many occasions when this gap in identification hindered poor and vulnerable people from accessing the basic services that they deserve,” Stieritz said. “In one instance, for example, when an immigrant who lacked ID was victimized in front of one of our churches, not even the word of the pastor who had witnessed the incident was enough to vouch for him. The Archbishop, Catholic Charities, and numerous faith communities support this, because it addresses a concern of human dignity for these vulnerable populations and enables them, regardless of economic status or country of origin, to be identified in our community.”

 

The various member groups helped design the system, based on one used in Greensboro (NC) and supported by the Diocese of Raleigh. The existing staff at Catholic Charities of Soutwestern Ohio will review applications. Unlike police and fire personnel busy responding to calls, Stieritz says, Catholic Charities has the expertise and time to identify and verify what he called a potentially “mind-boggling” array of current and expired IDs people applying for a card may have, which may include old prison ID cards, foreign drivers licenses and consular documents, passports, and military IDs.

 

Stieritz says the MARCC ID is easier to obtain than a state ID but costs more. “It can be obtained with a broader range of documents than the state-issued one [but], it is intended to require enough proof of ID and residency that it will inspire confidence among the police and city departments. That is, it’s easier to get than a state ID, but not as easy as a gym membership card.. The array of acceptable documents reflect the level of background check at which our local police felt comfortable.”

 

“Many populations residing in the city — primarily certain immigrants, those reentering society from prison, and the homeless — can’t acquire a state ID, because they lack the proper documentation for it. Either they never had it to begin with or they have misplaced it in the turmoil of their lives.”

 

The $15 fee (state ID cards cost $7.50) is intended to keep the program solvent but no one will be turned away. “Catholic Charities will not deny its services to anyone,” he said. “The agency will find a way to help.”

 

Steiritz said that the city’s police and fire departments, along with homeless and prison reentry organizations, want the cards. While other cities including Los Angeles, Camden (NJ), and Philadelphia have begun their own systems, he said the religious coalition stepped up to do so when Cincinnati did not.

 

“The MARCC card can at least ensure that interactions with city officials aren’t made more difficult” for people who lose or do not have ID, and who – for reasons that can include mental problems and years of moving from place to place without ID, as well as immigration status – do not know how, or find it too complex, to track down old paperwork. “Especially since such populations can have interactions with the police, living on the streets or moving in and out of shelters, these end up not being small matters, which is why such organizations working with this group have been calling for such an ID for some time now,” he said.

 

Although Catholic Charities will not keep copies of the IDs it verifies, Steirtz said that it will provide proof that documents were presented and verified. “The whole system essentially rests on city officials’ trust in the accuracy of the card,” he said.

 

“The Archbishop, Catholic Charities, and numerous faith communities support this, because it addresses a concern of human dignity for these vulnerable populations and enables them, regardless of economic status or country of origin, to be identified in our community.”


Catholic Charities is prepared to dispense 2000 ID cards in the first of a three- year trial period.

 

MARCC and the The Archdiocese say that the system is legal in Ohio and solves a vexing problem. As for the problem of undocumented immigrants, Steirizt said, ” The only solution that the MARCC ID card provides is that it enables them to identify themselves to the police more readily and access universal city services that aren’t required to be accessed via state or federal identification.


“While our national immigration system continues to be broken, this is a stop gap measure for a specific situation faced by such immigrants in our local community. It’s something we are doing along with our ongoing efforts to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.  It offers no additional ‘rights’ to anyone. It simply allows an immigrant – or anyone else – to let police and local officials know who they are. Cincinnati police are not ICE officials. Their job is to respond to the victims of crime. Hence, the police want this ID to facilitate that process.”

 

Founded after the 1967 Cincinnati riots, MARCC addresses civic and social issues, choosing two at a time to focus on in monthly meertings. MARCC members include 17 “Judicatories” (member religious groups that each elect delegates) whose members include  the Archdiocese of Cincinnati; a number of Protestant Christian communions; a Jewish coalition; Unitarian-Universalists; the Cincinnati Muslim Community Center; and Volunteers of America, an interfaith ministry serving homeless people, addicts, and other vulnerable populations.

 

 

See the MARCC ID application here.

 

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