Written by Michelle Corless, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -
A city issued ID is something the Iowa City Human Rights Commission has been backing for years.
"There are people in our society in Iowa City that weren't able to take and get services," said Harry Olmstead, Human Rights Commission Chairperson.
Those services include things like utilities, a bank account, or just proof of identification should they need to talk to a police officer or firefighter. Not everyone has a drivers license or state ID, like people living in the country illegally.
"Things are, should not be withheld from someone just because they may not be in our country legally," said Olmstead.
A few other cities in the country offer city IDs. Research done by University of Iowa law students show those IDs are often used by immigrants .
We asked several people who live in Iowa City what they thought of the concept and each one was in favor.
"If they're here and they're not actively being deported, I think it would be a good thing for us to be able to identify them," said Emily Matson.
"Iowa's got a ton of migrant workers," said James Conway. "We depend on these people, so yeah, absolutely."
The IDs could also help people who've lost documents in a disaster and the homeless. Finding replacement social security cards and other documents takes weeks -- and for people at Shelter House, it means a longer stay at the shelter.
"It makes it more difficult to get started on finding employment and getting their life back on track," said Mark Sertterh, Shelter House Resident Services Director.
According to the University of Iowa law students who prepared a report for the city on this issue, a city ID would not conflict with state or federal law.
City staff say the city council will likely discuss this issue at the February 18th work session.
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