Lawyers push Mpls. to issue city ID cards to residents, unveil list of ‘pro-immigrant’ demands

Immigrant rights advocates are pushing Minneapolis to finally issue municipal ID cards to residents, regardless of immigration status.

The city passed the Municipal Identification Ordinance in 2018 to help residents obtain services such as bank accounts. But that halted the launch of the program over fears the information could be used to identify immigrants to be deported.

“The city is refusing to implement this policy for fear of putting immigrants at risk,” Councilwoman Aisha Chughtai said Thursday at a news conference, where she was flanked by at least two dozen supporters wearing signs. “But immigrants take risks every day, and we must answer the call to let immigrants make those choices for themselves.”

The implementation of the municipal ID program is one of many demands made by advocates at the press conference. They also called on Mayor Jacob Frey and the city council to take immediate action to improve and protect the lives of immigrant residents, including those who are not permitted.

Census data shows that about 15% of Minneapolis residents were foreign born. A 2016 Pew Research report found that approximately 70,000 residents of the metropolitan area were unlicensed.

The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), a grassroots immigrant rights organization, is spearheading the new Immigrant Power Now campaign with the goal of “changing for immigrants” in Minneapolis.

The group’s demands include creating financial assistance for Deferred Action Renewal Applications for Childhood Arrivals, increasing funding and staffing levels for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs of the city and Minneapolis police stop arresting residents for citable offenses that could put them on the radar of immigration authorities. .

Chughtai, a first-generation immigrant who represents the 10th Ward, said it was imperative the city move forward on all proposals. But she said implementing the municipal ID program was a top priority for her because the cards could help make people safer and create a sense of belonging.

MIRAC member Chughtai said municipal ID cards would prevent unnecessary arrests of many undocumented residents while allowing better access to services, such as opening bank accounts, renting apartments and receiving reception. of medical care.

Under the Minnesota government’s Data Practices Act, data collected by the city when people apply for municipal ID cards would be public. And anyone, including federal immigration authorities, could have access to it.

The city should explain these risks to immigrants instead of suspending plans to implement the program, advocates say.

Rochester, Northfield and other towns in Minnesota offer municipal ID cards, MIRAC member Akhi Menawat said. The city must follow suit because ID cards would also help transgender people and young people, he said.

“While Minneapolis calls itself a sanctuary city, it’s still not where immigrants can live full, healthy, and prosperous lives,” Menawat said. “Cities are the last line of defense when it comes to many issues, including immigration.”

Councilman Jason Chavez, who represents the racially diverse Ninth Ward, said MIRAC’s efforts will ensure immigration justice is achieved in Minneapolis to prevent involuntary and ‘unfair’ deportations and help people thrive. in the city.

Chavez, the son of Mexican parents, said he saw his family and friends deported even though they considered the United States their country of origin.

“When our state and federal governments fail to support immigrant communities, the City of Minneapolis must protect all immigrants to the City of Minneapolis,” Chavez said.

MIRAC leaders said they would begin meeting with city and community leaders to advance their demands.

Interactive data journalist Jeff Hargarten contributed to this report.

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