This piece originally appeared in The Kansas City Star.
Growing up undocumented, I understand firsthand the struggles that members of our community face. At one point, I felt I did not exist because I lacked a Social Security number and the documents providing written evidence that I did in fact exist.
Because of that, I strongly support the pending municipal ID ordinance in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. It would give my family access to basic services such as bank accounts and health care. It would make my family members feel welcome in a place where they have built community, contributed to the economy and lived for many years.
To be clear, having a municipal ID would not change anyone’s immigration status. But it certainly would help people create more welcoming spaces in the neighborhoods they call home.
When I was undocumented, I considered law enforcement officials a threat. Family members in Wyandotte County often hear gunshots at night but never call the police because doing so would put them in jeopardy, as officers typically ask for identification. Furthermore, having a municipal ID would make reporting crime a less frightening experience.
I fully support the ACLU of Kansas’ Safe and Welcoming Kansas municipal ID campaign because I strongly believe everyone, regardless of immigration status, should feel welcome in the community they love and support.
Giovanni Rocha
Kansas City