Grassroots effort pushing Columbus to start municipal ID program

A sample municipal ID card shows what the cards could possibly look like.

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A grassroots effort is pushing the City of Columbus to create a municipal identification program.

One ID Columbus hopes to help local residents prove their identity with a new kind of photo ID-card.

Speakers from New York City, Detroit and Baltimore were in town, explaining how similar municipal ID programs have been successful in their cities. The summit met on Tuesday at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus.

Supporters said many residents in Columbus lack a proper ID to meet their basic needs. They hope One ID Columbus can change that.

“My husband is in the process to get the documentation legit with immigration,” said Laura Fuentes, who came to the summit.

She said while her husband works to establish residency in the United States, he can’t have a state ID.

“He has the passport and consulate ID card, but so many places don’t accept that kind of documentation anymore,” said Fuentes.

She said it’s difficult for her husband to prove his identity in the meantime.

“The demand is enormous, and we think the benefits are enormous too,” said Ed Hoffman with One ID Columbus. “Everybody can’t get a state ID, including the undocumented. But, there are other challenges.”

Hoffman said this program doesn’t just focus on immigrants. It also aims to help people who are homeless, victims of domestic abuse and the elderly. He said they often face barriers when trying to get an ID.

“Many times they don’t even know their social security numbers, and that’s one of the reasons that prevents [sic] them to have a driver’s license or formal state ID,” said Josue Vicenté, the executive director of the Ohio Hispanic Coalition.

Supporters said a municipal ID would help connect residents with public services and serve multiple purposes as a library card, pass to city parks and transit, among other things.

“It’s secure and safe, but it’s a little simpler to get,” said Hoffman.

Columbus City Councilman Michael Stinziano said, personally, he supports the cause.

“That one form of ID could be an important way in which to connect people and continue to build on our wonderful diversity in the City of Columbus,” he said.

Stinziano said city council will continue to discuss this program before drafting a new ordinance or folding it into existing legislation.

The Franklin County Sheriff, three Columbus City Council members and the city attorney were also in attendance at the event.

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