Elkhart Mayor responds to municipal ID program coming to city

NOW: Elkhart Mayor responds to municipal ID program coming to city


ELKHART, Ind.- About 100 Elkhart community members and businesses are making it known that they want a municipal ID program.

The mayor’s office has released a statement about having a potential program like this in the city.

Mayor Tim Neese has met and will continue to meet with individuals who seek to improve the relationship between the Latino community and city government. He is aware of options being explored by other municipalities and non-profit organizations in the area, but the city of Elkhart -- in its official capacity -- is not considering a municipal ID.A private organization, such as La Casa as an example, has the ability to implement an identification card program without the involvement or endorsement of city government. Mayor Neese would further note that providing an official municipal ID would be a duplication of services, as residents seeking to obtain an ID card can currently do so through the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles without having to obtain a driver’s license. He feels the issuance of government identification cards should be consistent statewide and should not vary from municipality to municipality.

Councilman Fish says that won't stop his efforts. In fact, he stopped by the Electric Brew and pitched the idea to management.

“We have the opportunity here to get some of the people in the margins a little more connected to our community,” says Fish to the manager of The Electric Brew, Arlette Eaton.

“I thought it was it was a great opportunity for people to have an identification for themselves and it can help them so much,” responds Eaton as she signs the letter without hesitation.

The letter going around the community starts like this, “The Elkhart ID card would add a layer of public safety with dealing with police, first-responders and fire fighters within city limits,” explains Fish.

He says the priority is to help citizens safe when interacting with city government, “An incident of any sort they would have that layer of interaction with the police there would be a way to communicate. Whether there’s a language barrier or not, they would have an ID that would allow them to feel comfortable.”

But Fish says they can’t ignore the facts either.

“We’re realists we know we have undocumented people here, and it’s just a way to show them that Elkhart is a welcoming community.”

Although Mayor Tim Neese has rejected this idea, Fish says he is not going to stop working with the community.

“It’s a matter of public safety it’s a way to give the documents folks and even elderly and young people a chance to have a layer of identification.”

This is not just for the Latino community, this is an Elkhart Community ID,” adds Fish.

Fish says the plan was to give all the signed letters to Mayor Neese so he see how the community is responding.

“This is part of the foundation you need to build a strong city,” says Fish. “This will be a foundation for all of us to move forward.”

There have been approximately 100 letters signed and about 400 more left to be distributed.

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