San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced legislation for a San Francisco Municipal Identification card at a noontime news conference on the steps of City Hall today. Ammiano gathered supporters of the legislation closely around a podium facing Polk Street on the sunny steps of City Hall to speak about the need for a citywide identification system.
Municipal IDs, which would be available to all city residents, would establish legal identity and residency and would allow card holders to access basic services such as banking, homeless aid and library access, according to Ammiano.
Specifically, Ammiano said the ID will help youth, immigrants, homeless, transgender and elderly, communities he claims are often targets ofcrime and unfair treatment because of their inability to prove identity.
“One of the tools of oppression can be not giving someone an ID,” Ammiano said in front of supporters and reporters today. “In San Francisco we want to address the issue of people who provide so much to our infrastructure and yet get so little reward. There is no greater disrespect than rendering people invisible who we don't want to give an ID.”
Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Labor Council enthusiastically spoke about the suggested IDs, which he said the council fully backs.
“This ID card is going to legitimize everybody in San Francisco,” Paulson said. “We are for making sure everybody has access to city services and protections.”
Ammiano said that individual municipalities can issue identification as officials see fit in accordance with state and federal law. He said similar identification cards are already available in New Haven, Conn., and are being discussed in New York and Los Angeles.
Supporters who spoke in favor of Ammiano at today's event said that immigrants, unable to open bank accounts, often carry large amounts of cash and are targeted by robbers and unfair landlords.
Lilian Castillo of Young Workers United addressed the crowd in support of the rights that could be afforded to immigrants who would could apply for an ID.
“Our community is constantly exploited,” Castillo said. “Some of our members have been robbed and beat up and did not call the police because they were afraid of being reported. All people, no matter their legal status, have the right to a legal ID.”
Several other speakers chose to address the crowd in Spanish.
Supervisor Sandoval spoke first in Spanish then translated the same speech to English.
“The U.S. Government at the federal and state level has left a vacuum when it comes to immigrants rights,” Sandoval said. “It has left a vacuum for local cities and local government to act. We are here to tell immigrants that we approve who they are and what they do.”
Other speakers gave the example of homeless persons unable to access healthcare and homeless shelters, a problem that could be addressed by citywide IDs, according to supporters.
“When San Francisco residents don't have government issued ID it is a serious public safety issue for those individuals as well as out community as a whole,” Ammiano said. “Without ID people are afraid to report crimes meaning perpetrators are free to strike again.”
Youth, too, would benefit from having a card with their name and emergency contact information immediately available, according to Ammiano.
These and other problems could be addressed with a municipal ID program, said Ammiano, whose supporters include Supervisors Gerardo Sandoval, Aaron Peskin, Chris Daly, Jake McGoldrick, Ross Mirkarimi, and Sophie Maxwell as well as representatives from the San Francisco Labor Council, immigrant rights groups, homeless shelters, and transgender communities. Mayor Gavin Newsom has also offered his support, according to officials.
— Bay City News