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Detroiters can get a municipal ID. What will that mean for them?

Dec 7, 2016

Detroit residents can now apply for a municipal ID card that will be recognized throughout the city.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the ID program will allow residents, regardless of citizenship status or criminal background, to access businesses and services that require a valid photo ID. 

“For most of us who have driver's licenses, we don't know what this experience is not to have ID and how hard everyday life can be,” Duggan said.

Homeless people living in the city can even list the shelter or soup kitchen they frequently visit as their address when they apply for the card, with some complementary paper work, of course. 

City officials say this program will help people access basic services, and be recognized by businesses that require a photo ID.

Fayrouz Saad, the city's director of immigrant affairs, said undocumented immigrants can apply for the card without being deported.

“We will only release name and ZIP code, height and eye color of the information that is on the ID,” Saad said.

Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez came up with the idea for a citywide ID program. 

Castaneda-Lopez said the program was about helping people who had a difficult time obtaining a state-issued ID get access to services that are hard to live without.

“I think it’s important to emphasize that the Detroit ID is not about immigration. It’s about building inclusive democracies and removing barriers in our community,” said Castaneda-Lopez.

“I’m fortunate to work with quite a few youth in the community who want to [be able to] show their ID card whether it’s to get discounts at the movies or just even in interactions with the police,” she said.

Castaneda-Lopez said nationwide, about 30% of African Americans don’t have a valid ID, which makes it difficult to fully participate in the economic and political landscape of this country.

Saad said the city hopes to issue 35,000 ID's within the first two years of the program. 

Other major American cities and smaller communities, including Washtenaw County in southeast Michigan,  have already begun municipal ID programs with similar benefits.