Talking Points: Why Cities Should Issue Municipal ID Cards to All Residents (Apr 2014)

Offering municipal ID cards to all city residents is fundamentally fair.

  • All residents deserve the right to be identified.  The ability to prove one’s identity is a fundamental human right - not a privilege. 
  • Municipal ID cards allow all residents the opportunity to participate more fully in the economy and meet their basic needs such as buying groceries. Paying for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card often requires an ID.
  • Identification will enable card holders to access services essential to their families such as renting apartments, obtaining utilities, accessing health clinics, filling prescriptions, acquiring insurance, and picking up their children at school.
  • Enabling individuals to open bank accounts so that they don’t have to carry their savings protects them from theft.  Access to banking services allows people to save to support their families and to participate more easily in the economy.


Offering municipal ID cards to all city residents makes our communities safer.

  • The ability to prove one’s identity increases the likelihood that an individual will report a crime and file a police report. In particular, those without immigration status will be less fearful of detention and deportation.
  • Law enforcement will spend less time and fewer resources identifying individuals when all residents are eligible for municipal ID cards. Police will be able to focus on protecting the public.
  • When all city residents can prove their identity, city employees such as firefighters and EMTs can better serve everyone. 


Offering municipal ID cards to all city residents promotes community inclusiveness.

  • Municipal ID cards will help our most vulnerable residents, including undocumented immigrants, victims of domestic violence or natural disaster, the homeless, low-income senior citizens, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • The ability to prove one’s identity fosters a sense of pride, belonging, and shared community and facilitates integration and participation in civic life.
  • When residents can access the services necessary to take care of themselves and their families, communities become socially and economically stronger.


Offering municipal ID cards to all city residents furthers the message of Catholic social teaching.

  • Access to municipal ID cards allows all city residents the opportunity to live in dignity.
  • A government-issued ID is essential to accessing services necessary to human life and keeping families together.


This summary was prepared in April 2014 with assistance from Legal Fellow, Kassandra Haynes.  It is intended for informational purposes, not as legal advice. For questions, please contact CLINIC’s State and Local Advocacy Attorney, Jen Riddle, at or (301) 565-4807.