City of Newburgh Council Approves Municipal ID Card Program
by Michael Lebron
The City of Newburgh became the latest municipality in the Hudson Valley to createa Municipal ID Card Program.
The program is most often associated with undocumented immigrants, who live in fear of being confronted by officials and being unable to present identification. Critics of the program argue that it confers legitimacy to people who have yet to earn legal status in this country. And some supporters worry that the ID program will simply make it easier for ICE officials to harass and expel immigrants.
But most supporters argue that the benefits outweigh the risk, and that other residents benefit as well. There are those who cannot or do not drive, for example, a group that includes many elderly, disabled, and the homeless. Given the heightened security at schools, parents need them to pick up children. Pharmacies also require an ID.
Monday’s City Council meeting was packed with about 200 visitors, many who spoke in heartfelt ways about the troubles they’ve faced and the positive impact that this measure would have on their lives. Many were with the group “Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson”. Said their lead organizer, Ignacio Acevedo, “This is Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson’s fifth municipal ID in the Hudson Valley in the last 9 months, and we’re not done yet.”
After the vote – which was unanimous – Mayor Harvey said “The City Council, concerned residents and I made history this past Monday…after our public hearing on Municipal ID’s for ALL residents in the City of Newburgh, NY. There are people who live in our City who will now be able to cash their checks, open a bank account and provide a City of Newburgh Municipal ID Card if approached by a Police Officer or have a medical emergency. This Local Law is super important not only to undocumented residents but to all residents from 14 years old and older”.
Councilperson Mejia added “I am satisfied that the council unanimously passed this law. It is time that members of the community who have been here for decades start to exercise ownership of their municipality and one way to do that is by being able to identify themselves via IDs.”
Kevindaryan Lujan, an Orange County legislator representing parts of Newburgh has been working on the initiative from the beginning. He said that “… we are glad it is finally a reality. It speaks to the core values of our city, that diversity is our strength, and to our desire embrace all of our neighbors. I believe the IDs will help foster greater unity and community, and I was moved to see so many people come out and speak, particularly, our youth. They all recognized how important this is for their families. I believe that this week many community members felt heard and that’s an amazing achievement.”
Newburgh officials are still working on the technological demands and other details of the program, which is modeled on those of other municipalities in the area, as well as New York City’s. The city has set September 4 as the official launch date, but Mayor Harvey – no doubt loving the symbolism of the date – hopes that the roll-out could actually be ready by the Fourth of July, Independence Day. (Photo by Michael Lebron)