With the obstacles for undocumented immigrants in the United States on
the rise, immigration activists in Miami-Dade are trying get the county to
provide residents (including the undocumented) with identification cards to
alleviate the problem.
Activists from the Peruvian-American Coalition, American
Fraternity and Honduran Unity, believe residential ID cards would allow for
many undocumented immigrants residing in the county to feel more secure, as
they fear arrest and remain in the shadows, especially since they are not even
able to apply for driver’s licenses. The organization believes that the ID
cards would provide more benefits than it would create problems in a county
that absorbs thousands of new immigrants annually.
The ID card, according to the activists, would allow
immigrants to open bank accounts, go to the doctor, and even get an Employer ID
Numbers from the IRS so that they could start businesses.
However, the Miami-Dade County Commission is reported to be
split in its opinion regarding such an ID. County
Commission Chairman Bruno Barreiro who
supports the ID is reportedly said years ago he asked for an ID that was
similar to consular IDs, such as what Mexico
distributes to its citizens living in the U.S. However, he did not receive
the support he needed. Barreiro thinks that a county ID
is needed for immigrants and would be better than individual cities having
their own ID’s.
On the other hand, the indications are that the county’s
mayor, Carlos Alvarez, is not supportive of the ID proposal, as he is reported
as saying that such an ID program without an established federal law would be
an immigration discussion without national reach.
In the meantime more undocumented immigrants in South Florida generally are facing the real possibility
of returning to their home countries, as last week the Bush administration
announced tougher enforcement of immigration laws. This enforcement includes
fines for employees who knowingly hire undocumented workers, a new system to
track the departure of visitors to the country, and an increase in Border
Patrol agents. Also, the Department of Homeland Security can now ask states to
voluntarily share their driver’s license photos and records with that
department for use in an employment verification system.
Undocumented immigrants in South
Florida’s Caribbean-American community are surprised at the new
measures being taken by the Bush administration. A Jamaican in North Miami
Beach who spoke on condition of anonymity, asked, “How could Bush on one hand
appear to be trying to push immigration reform through Congress that would
benefit undocumented immigrants, and on the other he is passing legislations
that now make it all that harder for us. Now we can’t drive, and we won’t be
able to get jobs, so it seems as if we will just have to form a long line at Miami’s airport and fly