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(Español) The Archdiocese of Baltimore announced that it will begin issuing identification cards to its parishioners, regardless of immigration status. In an attempt to alleviate fears among immigrant communities, church leaders decided to being this program as a way to give immigrants, legal or not, a form of identification, should they need to deal with law enforcement. The identification cards will show the person’s photograph, name, address, and date of birth, along with the parish logo. While the cards clearly state it is not a government-issued form of identification, the city of Baltimore, including the police department, will recognize the parish ID as an official form of identification.
The program is modeled after a similar program started by a church on Texas, which also offers identification cards to its parishioners. In both cases, the applicant for the ID must be a member of the parish for a predetermined amount of time, along with presenting a form of identification from their country of origin and a witness affidavit testifying to the person’s identity.
Both church and city officials have discussed the impact the identification cards will have on the immigrant community. Most immigrants without legal status have no access to acquiring a recognized form of identification with a valid address. While showing a passport or consular identification card, something many places do not accept as identification, go as far as demonstrating a person’s date of birth but provide no proof as to the person’s residence. According to church officials, this new card will allow for a greater sense of community within the immigrant community and allow them to feel as a part of the city. City officials echoed the sentiment, noting how the cards will allow residents to comfortably interact with city officials and police, should they be a victim of a crime.