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Mayor: Charlotte should create municipal ID

Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter said Thursday that he supports creating a city ID card that could help undocumented immigrants do such things as prove their identity during minor traffic stops or serve as volunteers in public schools attended by their children.

Other cities around the country have already successfully created such IDs, he noted: “Which means we don’t have to re-create the wheel. There are models we can follow.”

Clodfelter made his suggestion during a meeting of the Immigrant Integration Task Force, a body of community leaders created by the city to find ways Charlotte can be more welcoming of immigrants and immigrant entrepreneurs.

The task force agreed it will research the idea, to be included in a list of proposals for a City Council vote early next year. Details to be resolved would include having Mecklenburg County participate.

Clodfelter’s vision is to create a municipal ID that could be used by all citizens, including native North Carolinians who might need some form of identification to meet requirements for the state’s new voter ID law. However, it remains to be seen as to whether a local ID would meet state guidelines, he added.

“This would be entirely voluntary for people, not required,” Clodfelter said.

Currently, people who are in the country illegally cannot interact with their own children in classes at any Charlotte-Mecklenburg school, because they do not have the Social Security numbers required for criminal background checks.

Their lack of identification – including being unable to get a state driver’s license – also results in them being arrested during minor traffic stops and possibly placed in deportation proceedings.

Charlotte police have said they are open to exploring a form of local ID, which they say could make it easier to identify victims of crimes. It would also allow officers to avoid making an automatic arrest if someone – including an undocumented immigrant – is caught driving without a license. Instead, police can issue a citation to such immigrants, police officials said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials announced last week that they, too, are looking into alternative forms of identification that can be used by parents who do not have Social Security numbers needed for a criminal background check. Those background checks are required to maintain safety in schools, officials said.

The Immigrant Integration Task Force has held a series of meetings in the community to get feedback from immigrants, and the inability to get some form of photo ID has become a common complaint during those meetings, officials said.

“To be able to create some form of identification for people would be a real game changer for us,” said task force Chairman Stefan Latorre.

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