To the Editor:
Yesterday’s article on area banks’ confusion and hesitance to accept the Elm City Resident Card, while accurate, misses the broader picture. The Resident ID program is the first of its kind in the nation and has been in existence for all of four months. With an issue as vast and complex as immigration, we cannot expect large banks to turn on a dime and offer full support for accepting the card. If they could, it would certainly be in their financial interest to do so as it increases their deposits and in no way violates the PATRIOT Act.
More importantly though, we should be proud of the few undocumented residents that have been able to come forward and open bank accounts rather than deride the program for its lack of immediate earth-shattering changes. The people we hope to open bank accounts with municipal IDs have been completely marginalized by society, have every reason to be distrustful of the government and have unfortunately been forced to live in the shadows. It will take a lot of hard work and time to engage everybody, but it is a job worth doing. [We saw a similarly sedate reaction when the IRS started giving out ITINs (Individual Tax Identification Numbers) in 1996. This program allowed people without social security numbers to voluntarily pay taxes. Even though this program did a huge favor to undocumented immigrants by helping them to establish residency, it was not until this past year that New Haven residents really started trusting it and taking advantage of it.]
As students then, we have two choices. We can sit on the sidelines while this historic program unfolds and validate our laziness with potshots at its imperfections. Or, we can work to create the conditions that make it effective and in doing so take steps towards a more just future. I urge all students to align themselves with the latter by registering for an Elm City Resident Card the week of November 5th, New Haven Solidarity Week. New Haven Solidarity Week is a campus-wide effort to increase solidarity with New Haven and encourage Yale community members to register for a resident card. Only by expanding its use can we ensure that local banks and undocumented residents will be comfortable using municipal IDs.
Blau is a senior in Morse College. He is the Co-Coordinator of New Haven Solidarity Week.