When Diana tried to go to a community college in Missouri, she was turned down.
It wasn’t her grades. Diana, a good student, didn’t have a driver’s license or an identification card that the college would accept. Her parents brought her to Kansas from Mexico when she was 6.
“I feel like I am letting my parents down, part of the reason they came here was to give us an opportunity to go to school and pursue our education,” Diana said. “Because of my status, my parents’ dreams are done, and my dreams are done.”
Diana told her story on Oct. 30 to more than 50 people gathered at the Grandview Park Presbyterian Church at 17th and Wilson Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas.
They were part of a lobbying effort launched by a coalition of 15 groups, including the ACLU, to convince Kansas City, Kansas, to issue municipal identification cards.
Another speaker, Erica, told how she had lost her driver’s license. She had been in the process of applying for a job and had been hired, but she couldn’t take the job because she had no identification card, she said. She added she had worked hard all her life.
She couldn’t afford a $75 fee that Texas was charging to send her birth certificate, she said. She had no lights and water for two weeks, and couldn’t apply for food stamps as she had no ID. So, until her pastor helped her about a month later, she was struggling and couldn’t take the job.
Stories like these were some of the reasons the coalition is backing municipal ID.
Michele Watley, director of advocacy for the ACLU of Kansas, told the group that there were an estimated 30,000 people in Wyandotte County having issues obtaining identification.
Not having an identification card means that these people have a lack of access to resources, have problems enrolling in school, and cannot get a job, she said. Organizers of the event said that while a municipal ID card would not mean that they could vote, it would mean that they could participate more fully in the community.
“We think our metro area should be safe and welcoming,” said Judith Ancel, with the Cross-Border Network. People should have a municipal ID in order to transact business, get a bank account, set up their utilities, get health care and other tasks, according to organizers of the event.
Ancel said there are migrant families here who are frightened and live in constant fear.
“In order to have a healthier community, we all have to have the same rights,” Ancel said.
Organizers of the event said that while a municipal ID program has some support on the Unified Government Commission, there are some commissioners who have not expressed their support.
Those who attended the forum on Monday night were asked to contact their UG commissioners to ask for their support for the program.
Plans are to extend the effort for municipal ID to other communities in the Kansas City area in the future, according to organizers.
Others in the coalition include the AIRR, AILA Kansas-Missouri Chapter, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, Cross-Lines Community Outreach, El Centro, IJAM, Kansas Appleseed, Kansas Forward Together, Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance, MainStream Coalition, More2, reStart Inc., Sister Therese Bangert, Stand Up KC and Sunflower House.