A big battle has been going on in New Haven, CT, which I’ve been remiss in addressing. It all stems from New Haven’s handing out of city IDs to any resident who wants them. The photo IDs act as a replacement for state issued id cards and licenses, allowing residents to open bank accounts, among other things.
The problem, however, is that this ID program originated as a way to protect illegal immigrants who are residents of New Haven. Protect here doesn’t mean protect them from authorities, but rather protect them from violence. Violence against illegal immigrants had been on the rise because it had become well known that they would carry large sums of cash around, being unable to open bank accounts to deposit the cash into.
New Haven, in consideration of its residents, passed this program to permit any resident to obtain an ID. Now, anti-immigration groups and one newspaper editor want the names of those issued ID cards.
[The hearing officer] found that “the ID Card program unleashed a level of vitriol and venom aimed at City officials and illegal immigrants that was far beyond mere political disagreement or healthy civic engagement, according to testimony.”
“We met the burden of proof and look forward to moving past this so that we can continue to grow this successful program,” said Kica Matos, the city’s Community Service Administrator, in the city press statement.
Ms. Matos herself was the subject of disturbing and threatening e-mails and postings, some advocating her murder.
The city had declined to reveal the names, citing specific threats and the fear of a rise in crime against people with Spanish sounding names, regardless of their citizenship status.
Finally, yesterday, a full panel of the FOIC considered the hearing officer’s report and voted 3-1 to uphold that decision.
In the end, commissioners expressed sympathy with the argument made by the city and its expert witnesses that threats of violence against city officials and immigrants in general warranted keeping the identities of cardholders secret. The cards are not held just by immigrants, but they are designed to help immigrants integrate into city life. The cards entitle holders to access to city services like libraries and parks, and are designed as secondary documentation to help open bank accounts.
Ironically, one of the groups opposing the disclosure of the names was the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
It should come as no surprise to you that I support their decision. While illegal immigration is a crime, there is no need to endanger the lives of people by revealing only their names.