In New York State, 22.9 percent of the population (based on 2015 reports) are hardworking immigrants who will never achieve the American Dream, despite their greatest efforts. Over the past couple of years, the Trump Administration has been targeting thousands of undocumented immigrants in New York State. As a result, basic errands and tasks are challenging to accomplish without fear of deportation. One of the primary reasons for deportations is lacking official identification. This has become one of the biggest obstacles for the undocumented men and women residing within the Hudson Valley municipalities. To help overcome this obstacle, Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson has started granting municipal IDs to the undocumented community of Kingston, NY.
Imagine going through your daily routine. How many times do you use any form of identification? To pick up your children? To go to a doctor’s appointment? To file an insurance claim? To report a crime? Visualize the difficulties of completing these tasks without a way to identify yourself. Without an ID, one becomes voiceless in a community. IDs are not only beneficial to the undocumented communities of Kingston, but to any marginalized group — homeless people, transgender people, senior citizens, young people, the formerly incarcerated. Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson (NLMH) won the legalization of Municipal IDs in Kingston in December of 2018. The struggle to access these IDs has been going on since 2016, and began with Middletown, continuing with Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and Newburgh (Click here to read about the case). Kingston passed the bill in a unanimous vote that has brought together the municipality in support of their undocumented neighbors. Based in the Hudson Valley, NLMH has allowed the IDs to improve the lives of over 2,000 residents, ultimately keeping families together and decreasing overall deportation rates in these communities.
The process of obtaining a municipal ID in Kingston requires the following steps.
1. Required documentation (which includes, but is not limited to: US/Foreign passport, driver’s license, consular ID card, utility bill) must be taken to the Clerk’s Office on the first floor of City Hall (located in 420 Broadway, Monday-Friday, 8:30 to 4:00).
2. After bringing in the required forms of identification, proof of residency, and paying a fee (dependant on age), the Municipal ID can be obtained.
3. There are a multitude of businesses in Kingston that offer discounts to members of the community that have municipal IDs.
The importance of these IDs lies in allowing members of the community to be actively engaged citizens without the fear of imminent deportation. A testimonial given by a Kingston resident described how her own mother was unable to visit her hospitalized son because her only form of identification was a Mexican passport. She described the process as “discouraging,” and explained that “the only way [her] mother could be with him” was if her or her uncle “could ring [her] mom in because [they] had a license.” It’s through cases like these where Nobody Leaves Mid Hudson finds the inspiration for change. Municipal IDs prevent situations such as these from happening. Municipal IDs not only ensure a decrease in deportations, but reduce fear within one of the most marginalized communities in the Hudson Valley.
NLMH have not only won their case in favor of municipal IDs, but for driver’s licenses as well. They have been able to grant over 100,000 undocumented members of the Kingston community driver’s licenses. New York State only recently changed the laws on undocumented persons recieving licenses, making municipal IDs and drivers licenses great victories for the Hudson Valley. Mobilization and access are necessities for life, and granting licenses to people regardless of their immigration status further allows and encourages community involvement and the accomplishment of tasks necessary for their daily lives.
Both the municipal IDs and driver’s licenses acquired by marginalized communities in the Hudson Valley have been an effective form of allowing their members to be included within their societies. The long struggle to be recognized as essential to the American society will continue to be fought, but with the acceptance of these IDs, a small step towards acceptance has been reached.
Interested in being involved? Click here (click on the Take Action tab) to receive information from NLMH on how to be an active participant towards social justice in the Hudson Valley.
Businesses interested in participating in the Kingston ID discount program, contact 845-334-3945 (City of Kingston’s Office of Communications)