Woodstock will consider following Kingston and other Hudson Valley communities in providing municipal ID cards to its residents, helping more of the population get vital services and allowing them to feel like they are part of the community. “It tells people Woodstock welcomes them,” said town Human Rights Commission Vice Chair Salvadore Altamirano-Segura.
The Kingston Common Council adopted a municipal ID law in December and joins Poughkeepsie, Beacon and Middletown among area communities who have similar legislation on the books.
The muni card, as it is called in the commission’s proposal, can serve as identification for people who can’t otherwise obtain a driver license or non-driver ID, either because they are undocumented or do not have a permanent address. It can allow people to pick up their children from school where, for safety reasons, identification is required. It might be used for banking or for paying for purchases with a check or card. It could also prove valuable in a fire, police or medical emergency.
“No Woodstock resident should be a Jane Doe or John Doe at any area hospital,” said Human Rights Commission Chair Anula Courtis.
Courtis proposed the card be available to every Woodstock resident, not just those who can’t obtain state or federal IDs. If everyone has the opportunity to get one, it’s non-discriminatory and avoids any shame in having one.
Councilman Reggie Earls agreed. “The more people who use it, it takes away the stigma,” he said.
The commission estimates initial costs at $2000-$3000 and the town could charge $5 and waive the fee for those in need, it suggested. Requiring the card could be considered a tax, so the commission has suggested working with businesses to offer discounts as an incentive for obtaining it.
Councilman Richard Heppner expressed concern about the town’s legal exposure from keeping documentation required to issue the cards.
Courtis said the town doesn’t have to keep the documents. Instead it could merely keep record that proof of Woodstock residency was checked and it was valid.
Still to be worked out are details of what is needed to obtain the card, such as utility bills or other proof of address.
Town Clerk Jackie Earley is eager to work with the commission to make sure it is implemented consistently should the Town Board adopt it. She said two people in her office are fluent in Spanish, but she wants to find out if the law requires a certified translator.
Supervisor Bill McKenna suggested someone from the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) monastery could be enlisted to translate Tibetan.
The commission would work with immigrant groups to educate people where the ID card is and is not acceptable. They plan to find out if, for example, banks will accept it to open an account.
McKenna asked the Town Board to come up with a list of questions and concerns and address it at a later meeting.
The Town Board recently passed a resolution supporting the Driver License Access and Privacy Act, or Green Light Bill on the state level, allowing the undocumented population to obtain a driver license provided written and road tests are passed and all other requirements are met.
Both a driver license and non-driver ID now require a social security number, something undocumented people cannot obtain.