FaithAction ID Card: Turning Strangers into Neighbors
FaithAction International House, a CLINIC affiliate led by the Rev. David Fraccaro, a minister in the United Church of Christ, is continuing to make great strides in promoting and encouraging immigrant integration in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Among their programs, FaithAction offers immigration legal services in their efforts to “turn strangers into neighbors.” One initiative in particular continues to draw national attention. In the summer of 2013, FaithAction launched the FaithAction ID initiative, providing identification for anyone who may not have access to government-issued forms of ID. Since CLINIC first highlighted the program in early 2015, the Community ID program has continued to grow in both impact and reach.
The FaithAction ID card originated through a partnership with the Greensboro Police Department. That relationship has helped build trust between law enforcement and immigrants. Other vulnerable populations also benefit, including the homeless, the elderly and former prisoners.
For example, the ID is accepted by the police as an approved form of identification. Over time, several other sectors including some health centers and schools began accepting the ID, providing card holders with a way to obtain health and school records, visit friends and family and register for appointments. More recently, several businesses and cultural organizations have provided special benefits and discounts at local restaurants, theaters, and museums for those using the FaithAction ID.
In the fall of 2015, the North Carolina Legislature passed HB 318, which prohibited government officials and city agencies from accepting community ID cards. Despite this setback, the FaithAction ID program continued to grow and is now supported by 16 law enforcement agencies and dozens of other partners in North Carolina.
FaithAction and its partners have provided nearly 10,000 ID cards in North Carolina. Support for the program has grown beyond the borders of North Carolina. For example, Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio began working with Fraccaro on how to implement the program in Cincinnati. The two programs worked closely together to ensure that the Ohio version followed North Carolina’s ID distribution model and vetting system. A collaboration of the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, the ID known as the MARCC card began being distributed in 2016.
FaithAction also recently held an ID training in Houston. And they’re fielding requests for training from small towns and large cities across the nation. The program has several appealing characteristics for cities that want to begin a program but may not have the political will or financial means to create a city-run municipal ID program.
For one thing, the model established by FaithAction follows a clear vetting and distribution process that is trusted by local law enforcement and other partners, ensuring the program has lasting integrity. Second, the entire program is managed and funded by the nonprofit sector, with significant involvement by local Catholic churches that often host ID drives.
This ensures that participants feel safe and supported during a process that is led by service providers and advocates who already have the community’s trust. Third, applicants go through an orientation that ensures every participant understands the benefits and limitations of the card. That is followed by a dialogue with law enforcement, health officials and other city agencies.
Such discussions offer participants a chance to learn more about U.S. laws and customs, while providing a local resource and contact for future help -- helping to fulfill FaithAction’s goal of turning strangers into neighbors.
If you have an integration initiative that you would like CLINIC to highlight, please contact Leya Speasmaker, Integration Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.