By SHIKIRI HIGHTOWER
Immigrant advocates told the City and County of San Francisco Public Safety Committee on Monday that some police have little respect for the municipal ID card San Francisco is distributing to immigrants and others without identification.
“There was an incident where an SFPD officer did not recognize the municipal ID. He actually said something disrespectful about the ID,” said Angela Chan from the Asian Law Caucus.
Diana Oliva from CARECEN, an organization that represents 12,000 immigrant families in the Mission, said she too was concerned about the lack of education shown by city departments and police. Officials need “to understand that it is a form of residency and it’s stating that a person does have a right to live and work in San Francisco,” Oliva said.
District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who called the meeting, agreed that the card would fail “unless the right information is given to the police and they give the card its due respect.”
“Any member of our city not being able to properly identify themselves is an issue that effects all of us,” said Campos.
The city began distributing the municipal ID cards January 15. San Francisco residents, regardless of their immigration status, can use the card to access city services and open a checking account at participating banks.
Nevertheless, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who authored the proposal for the city’s municipal ID card when he was supervisor, recently introduced AB772 at the assembly level. It would give cities across the state a right to implement a version of San Francisco’s ID card.
The cities of Oakland, Richmond and San Pablo all had representatives there and spoke about interest in their cities for the card.
“Everybody should have the right to feel safe in their own city, and to be counted,” said Kimberly Alvarenga, from Ammiano’s office.
Supervisor Campos agreed, but the hearing Monday made it clear there are still a few glitches to work out.
The cards, which cost $15 for adults and $5 for children and seniors, offer discounts at local businesses, but Chan complained that many of the participating businesses are located in the Mission District.
Yolanda Interian, who has had her card since February, said she needs the card for the bank. Her husband, however, failed to have the right paperwork to get the card and had to wait six months for another appointment.
“The process is very difficult,” she said. “But, I like it.”
The Public Safety Committee report said 20 percent of the people applying for cards fail to have proper paperwork.
For Supervisor Campos this is also a personal issue.
“On a personal level, I am someone who at some point was undocumented and I know what it’s like to not have a form of identification. If you don’t have an ID it’s like you don’t exist,” he said.