Plan to issue IDs to undocumented immigrants hits roadblocks

Plan to issue IDs to undocumented immigrants hits roadblocks (WPEC)

Issuing identification cards to the undocumented is a controversial proposition.

In recent months, Palm Beach County leaders have discussed implementing such a concept, but not everyone is onboard.

The idea received the unanimous backing of the County’s Criminal Justice Commission.

But that group did have some concerns and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has had some big issues with the idea.

Tim Gamwell, in his role as assistant executive director of the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, regularly comes across people with no identification.

“Not having a valid ID means it’s that much more difficult to register your children for school,” he said. “Or it’s that much more difficult to identify yourself, as a victim even, to law enforcement.”

And if an encounter with police leads to what would normally be an unneeded trip to the jail, taxpayers end up footing the bill.

That was the rationale that prompted the Criminal Justice Commission to back the proposal from a group called PEACE to launch a community ID program.

The PEACE proposal is modeled after an ID system in Mercer County, New Jersey.

“We see this as a preventative measure,” Gamwell said. “We see this as an issue of public safety.”

But in a letter, Bradshaw said that while agreeing with the Justice Commission’s recommendations, he disagrees with the proposed requirements for obtaining the ID card.

Bradshaw wants records retained by the issuing agency and the use of thumb prints for security. He also insists on a passport, consular ID, state ID or driver’s license as proof of identity.

"If an individual has all these documents... obtaining an existing legitimate ID will be no problem," Bradshaw wrote.

However, Gamwell says it's more difficult than many people realize.

“It’s not as easy as people think to get a passport or consular ID,” he said.

CBS12 reached County Commissioner David Kerner, who sits on the Criminal Justice Commission.

Kerner said, with the Bradshaw's concerns, he’s holding off bringing the ID plan before the full Board of County Commissioners.

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