The City of Little Rock announces plans to begin issuing a municipal ID which could make life easier for thousands of residents.
Beginning July 7, the city will start printing its own identification cards.
The mission of “Working Together” is to unite Little Rock neighborhoods, especially those with a high number of Spanish-speaking residents. The group’s formation was partially a response to a series of robberies committed against Hispanic people.
“People were afraid of the police,” recalled Maricella Garcia, the city’s multicultural liaison. “They didn’t necessarily know how to communicate directly with the police; there was a language barrier. But there was also a lot of people who didn’t have ID, who were afraid to go to the police because of that.”
City leaders coordinated by banks, the Little Rock Police Department, the local Mexican Consulate, and others to develop the ID cards. Since banks require identification to open an account, the ID cards could help reduce crime.
“You hear, sometimes, people talk about immigrants as ‘walking ATMs,’ because they know that they carry cash on them, and that has been a problem with robberies,” Garcia stated.
The cards will be available to anyone who wants one, not just immigrants. Garcia mentioned the elderly and the homeless might be likely to get them, since people in those groups might be less likely than most to have a driver’s license, but would also need an ID card. Many social services require identification, and people also need ID’s to apply for jobs.
Garcia said the new ID cards would not come with the same rights as a driver’s license, Passport, or military ID.
“We’ll have a disclaimer on the back of the ID that will say clearly that it’s not valid for federal or state identification purposes,” she explained. “It’s not valid to buy alcohol or tobacco, for example, or to fly. I think people understand that this is going to be a city program and that it’s for city purposes.”
Morales believes the card will be very useful in emergency situations. Garcia said applicants will have the ability to list an emergency contact when they sign up, along with any medical conditions they might have. That will allow first responders to treat them properly in the event of an illness or injury, and to reach a family member. Morales also mentioned that many hospitals and clinics will not treat patients without ID.
“If you’ve got a person who’s sick, or a lady that’s pregnant,” he said, “it would be of great help that they could get the medical care they need, and not be denied of medical care just because they don’t have an ID.”
The cards will also help ensure children go to school. To enroll in a public school, a parent must provide an ID card for their child to prove the child’s age. “And most of the times, kids are American nationals, not Mexican nationals,” Morales added. “So, it’s affecting, actually, also, American kids to get to school.”
Several security measures have been put in place to ensure the cards can’t be duplicated of altered. There will be an embedded watermark of the city of Little Rock’s “LR” logo and a holographic seal of the city.
There will also be a pattern of lines that will partially cover the photo so that if someone was trying to alter the card and change the photo it would be evident that it was fabricated.