In an editorial published yesterday (“News’ View: Jones needs to articulate his position,” Feb. 12), the News’ board called upon me to clarify my position on the Elm City Resident Card. I am more than happy to do so.
The Elm City Resident Card is a form of identification that is intended to be recognized by merchants and other service providers across New Haven. All residents of the city are eligible for the card, even if they cannot prove they are citizens of the United States.
When I first learned of the Elm City Resident Card, I was in high school in North Carolina. I initially envisioned a scenario in which local governments all across the country were granting de facto citizenship to undocumented residents, while the federal government was failing to take the necessary steps to make legal immigration more accessible to more people. Without all the facts, I saw this as city government circumventing federal law and was reluctant to embrace the idea.
After I came to New Haven, though, I began to see a different side of the story. I realized that the Elm City Resident Card was about public safety, not about federal immigration policy. Perhaps most importantly, with cooperation from local banks, the card was designed to give undocumented residents access to bank accounts, which would allow them to safely deposit their money in banks instead of carrying large sums in their pockets. Without access to banks, folks all across New Haven, particularly those who appeared to be Latino, regardless of their immigration status, were becoming targets for robberies and other physical attacks.
After my initial reaction to the program, I was given the opportunity to see a proud, progressive city boldly act to preserve the safety and vitality of its communities. I can say unequivocally that I will support any measure required to continue or improve the program. The Elm City Resident Card is exactly the type of creative action that cities should take when the federal government fails to appropriately handle its responsibilities, and it is exactly the type of progressive leadership that I plan to bring to the board.
The writer is a sophomore in Saybrook College and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Ward 1 Alderman.