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Johnson County Considers Community ID

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Johnson County could soon become the sixth spot in the nation to adopt a community identification policy.

The goal is to help those who are in the United States legally, but don't have a driver's license, or other regular forms of identification.

At a public forum at the Center for Worker Justice on Friday night, dozens of people spoke out in need of a community ID. Sometimes, they were those concerned for people without bank accounts.

"So, they don't have an ID, so sometimes they have to go to these stores just to cash a check, and they charge them really high fees," said one woman, through a translator.

In another story, a woman was trying to buy food for her children, but got stopped by a cashier needed identification for her credit card.

"And she left her kids' food on the counter. We need a community ID," said Center for Worker Justice vice president Masahir Salih.

The stories shared by the unidentified at the forum were nearly endless. The community ID proposal, created by the Center for Worker Justice, is modeled after a program started in New Haven, Connecticut.

University of Iowa law professor Stella Burch Elias  implemented the program in New Haven, and her students researched how well a similar program might work in eastern Iowa. The Center then proposed the idea to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

The people who would need the community ID are immigrants, homeless, elderly, and other people who don't have common forms of identification.

Getting a community ID would be easier than a state ID, because you could use international passports or consulate cards to prove who you are -- not just the U.S. versions.

There are plenty of people in favor of the program, but some in law enforcement and business said, the ID would be redundant.

The Center for Worker Justice doesn't agree.

"Because they don't put themselves in their shoes -- other people's shoes -- really. They did not experience what we see," Salih said.

Johnson County attorney Janet Lyness will review the proposal and talk with law enforcement and city leaders about how feasible it would be to implement the program.
 
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