Immigration Rights Activists Have Upcoming Plans to Work with City to Issue IDs for Undocumented People

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Raul Alcaraz Ochoa at a 2013 protest against Tucson Police Department's enforcement of SB 1070. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Raul Alcaraz Ochoa at a 2013 protest against Tucson Police Department's enforcement of SB 1070.


Now that the Tucson Police Department will not look into people's immigration status (unless the person is a threat to national security, has gang affiliations or prior felonies), immigration rights advocates plan to focus more of their energy in working with the Tucson City Council and other officials to issue identification cards for residents regardless of their status in this country.

Years-long activist Raul Alcaraz Ochoa says he and other colleagues mentioned the idea to council members several months ago, but they hope to revive the movement. Although the community won a major battle pressuring TPD to scale back its SB 1070 enforcement, their efforts to protect the rights of all, including the undocumented population, continue.

"We are putting this issue at the forefront, and plan to launch a concrete campaign," Alcaraz Ochoa says.

He has spoken to Councilwomen Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich in the past, and they seemed on board with the idea. 

Uhlich says the conversation came up about a year ago, and she greatly recommended bringing Pima County into the discussions so the IDs can function throughout the entire county, not solely within metro Tucson.

"We can consider library cards or something like that, where there is a proof of residency, to be some sort of ID that TPD and other city entities and official entities could use when engaging with residents on whatever matter might be," she says. "Tying them to a system that is already set up would have the best potential right now."

New York City's municipal ID program, launched in January, came up in the conversation. These ID cards are available to residents age 14 and older for free. There is something similar in place in San Francisco, as well as several other municipalities, and it's made life easier for a lot of people. (You can read more about that on this Al Jazeera article.)

Uhlich wants to look into what a system similar to that would cost here, and whether the city has the infrastructure and personnel to manage it, hence why she proposed the library cards idea, that's a database already established.


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