Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News/National

Miami-Dade Approves ID Cards

Miami, FL - Starting next year, people in Florida's largest county may be able to get a county ID card, a move supporters say will benefit the community's more vulnerable residents.

The Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to endorse the idea and ordered a feasibility study on the cost. For residents, the card would be cheaper than a driver's license or state ID. It wouldn't require proof of citizenship, and the address used can be a shelter, which benefits domestic-violence victims and the homeless.

Francesca Menes, policy and advocacy coordinator for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said a state ID is tough to get for certain segments of the population.

"The amount of documents that it requires in order for you to get that form of identification is very strict - to the point that many don't get it, or they can't afford it," she said. "So, we're working on a form of identification that's tied to a lot of the different county services."

Critics dislike the idea of extending benefits to undocumented people and have called the county ID plans a waste of government money. A county ID card could be used to access libraries, open a bank account, get a credit card, attend city meetings or file a police report.

For the transgender community, Menes said, the IDs provide an additional benefit - respect.

"Normally with any government IDs, it's that you have to identify with the sex that you are born, not the one that you choose," she said. "So, this allows them to self-identify, as opposed to based on government's definition of who they can and can't be."

The small city of Aventura is the only other municipality in Florida to issue its own identification. The Miami program likely will be modeled after one implemented in New York City in January.

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