The city of Hartford will begin a municipal ID program that will allow residents to obtain identification cards that will allow them access to city services, regardless of their immigration status.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and city and community leaders this morning announced the launch of Hartford’s City ID program and said it has been in the works for a while to ensure that it was done effectively, at no cost to the city and with assurances that residents' person information would remain safe.
When asked, he said this plan was not in reaction to President Donald Trump's policies on undocumented immigrants in the United States.
"This was conceived long before the Trump administration. It has been successful and important in cities that adopted it long before the Trump administration," Bronin said. "Even though we would have done this if Hillary Clinton had been president, we're not going to allow ourselves to be intimidated by what we think is really an anti-immigrant agenda coming out of the current administration in Washington."
Bronin said this program is intended to ensure no one has to "live in the shadows," including the homeless who cannot get identification because they do not have a permanent residence and people who are being released from correctional facilities.
"This is a way to make the community stronger and safer," Bronin said. "It's a way to ensure that people don't have to be afraid that they can't demonstrate their identity as a resident of the city of Hartford."
The Hartford Public Library main branch and the town and city clerk's office are the places that residents can go to obtain the ID, which costs around $10 to $15.
The Hartford Public Library main branch will offer the IDs from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday and Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
The town and city clerk's office will offer the IDs by appointment and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"It is better for everyone in our community when somebody who is looking for a home, or who is looking for a library card, or who is dealing with any of our departments -- including our police department-- when they have an identification that can demonstrate their identity, when they can demonstrate they are a resident of the city of Hartford," Bronin said.
Hartford is launching the program 10 years after New Haven became the first city in the country to offer ID cards to immigrants who were in the country illegally. When that happened, it set off a firestorm of protest.
Then-Mayor John DeStefano, an outspoken advocate for immigration reform, introduced the plan as a way to integrate people who were in the country illegally into the community, and offer them a means to have some type of identification that they could use in places such as banks.
"We've seen undocumented immigrants and their neighbors become the victims of robbery, assault and in one case even murder because thieves know they often carry large sums of cash in their pockets or store it in their homes," DeStefano said in 2007. "This is the case because undocumented immigrants do not have the identification information necessary to open bank accounts and thereby safeguard their hard-earned money."
DeStefano also hoped the ID cards would make undocumented immigrants more willing to report crimes to police.
New York City also has a similar program.