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Use of ‘community’ IDs could be further restricted by the end of the legislative session

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Use of ‘community’ IDs could be further restricted by the end of the legislative session

Mar 04, 2024 | 3:00 pm ET
By Jackie Llanos
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Use of ‘community’ IDs could be further restricted by the end of the legislative session
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A sign held by immigration activists at the state capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 15, 2024 (photo credit: Mitch Perry)

In some Florida counties, undocumented immigrants can obtain a community ID issued by a nonprofit to identify themselves to law enforcement, schools, banks and other entities. But the Florida House voted Monday to prohibit counties and municipalities from accepting those IDs.

The bill’s sponsors (HB 1451) depicted it as a follow-up to the law cracking down on illegal immigration that went into effect in July and continuously referred to undocumented immigrants as criminals or terrorists. The House approved the bill in an 81-32 vote. The Senate and Gov. Ron DeSantis still have to approve the measure.

While the bill wouldn’t stop nonprofits from continuing their community ID programs, it would make them less widely accepted. The community IDs are meant to show that a person resides in a county.

Use of ‘community’ IDs could be further restricted by the end of the legislative session
State Rep. Kiyan Michael. Credit: Florida House

Duval County Republican Rep. Kiyan Michael sponsored the bill. Her son died in a car crash involving an undocumented immigrant who had been previously deported, according to News4Jax.

“Within two years we’ve had over eight million plus known terrorists that have come into this nation. Because of my child and what has happened in my family, I don’t hold any animosity in my heart, but I can guarantee you this: I’m just getting started,” she said.

Last year’s immigration law barred public funds from going toward the community ID programs, but Legal Aid nonprofits in counties such as Broward and Palm Beach still issue them for a fee of $20-25. People who want to get one must provide a picture ID such as a passport or ID from another country and proof of residency such as a utility bill or lease agreement. The community IDs don’t authorize people to drive or vote.

Immigrants are not the only ones who use community IDs. Homeless people also use the IDs. But under the bill, counties and municipalities wouldn’t be able to accept those IDs, Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said.

“I know that these issues and get kind of caught up in the immigration debate, but I think it’s really important to remember just why people might even consider community IDs as a concept. Again, the intention is to ensure that if you’re unable to access the traditional driver’s license, a community ID is not a replacement for that. You don’t have the privileges of driving,” she said. “In Florida, you can’t vote with a community ID, but the point of it is to ensure that if you get a crisis and emergency where you have to access … something like sandbags that proof of residency is easily provided. If you are a survivor of crime, it helps to ensure that there’s trust between law enforcement.”

‘We forget where we come from’

Use of ‘community’ IDs could be further restricted by the end of the legislative session
State Rep. Marie Paule Woodson. Credit: FL House

Democratic Rep. Marie Paule Woodson of Broward and Miami-Dade County pointed out that several lawmakers, such as herself, are related to or are immigrants. She is from Port-de-Paix, Haiti, according to her profile on the state House website.

“We forget where we come from. When we are immigrants and we are trying to marginalize other immigrants, we forget where we come from,” she said. “When we seem to ignore the pleas of Democrats, we forget where we come from. This country was built on the backs of immigrants. Hurting immigrants is hurting the United States.”

Lawmakers in favor of the bill pointed blame at the federal government for the situation at the border, with Pinellas County Republican Rep. Berny Jacques calling it an invasion.

“It might seem just very trivial. We’re talking about a community ID, what’s the big deal? This is a matter of literally life and death,” he said. “It’s a matter of life and death because when illegal aliens come into this country, people we know nothing about undetected. In addition to the drain on the social services and in addition to fentanyl that has taken the lives of our own citizens. You have criminals lurking and committing very heinous crimes here in our country.”

Jacques is also from Haiti, according to his profile on the House website.