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Fritchey proposes Countywide ID Card

Fritchey, Garcia propose Cook County ID Cards

 Clerk Orr calls program ‘important step forward’

Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia today were joined by County Clerk David Orr as they announced their plans to introduce an ordinance creating a Cook County identification card, providing more Cook County residents with the opportunity to obtain official identification.

The ID card would be available to anyone living in Cook County who provides sufficient documentation to establish both that person’s identity and residence. Under the proposal, the Cook County ID card would serve as proof of identification and county residency and would be accepted by all County agencies and any entity receiving County funds. Additionally, all state and local governmental entities would be encouraged to accept the Cook County ID card as a valid form of identification.

Commissioners Fritchey and Garcia noted that certain population segments have historically had difficulty obtaining a valid and recognized form of government-issued identification. Those groups include the homeless, the disabled and elderly, aspiring citizens, runaway youth, formerly incarcerated individuals re-entering society, children and students, adult survivors of domestic violence, as well as transgender and non-conforming individuals. Additionally, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, showed that while approximately 8% of whites lack a government-issued ID, approximately 25% of African-Americans lack such an identification. The availability of a County ID will allow all such individuals the opportunity to access public services they may have previously been excluded from for lack of official identification.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey logo

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey logo

“A recognized form of identification is essential to engaging in many fundamental activities such as getting married, seeing a doctor or requesting medical records, opening a bank account or applying for a job. Possessing a valid ID also makes many individuals more willing to engage with law enforcement for matters such as reporting a crime,” said Commissioner Fritchey. “By offering a government identification that is accessible to all Cook County residents, we can help people more easily access and obtain County services while at the same time, showing people who choose to call Cook County home that they are welcome here and they belong.”
The sponsors said that they were inspired by the success of other municipal identification programs across the country, including New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. but acknowledge that efforts were ramped up in light of the national climate. They also complimented the municipal identification program recently passed by the Chicago City Council.

“While we applaud the efforts and progress Chicago has made toward establishing its own municipal ID, it is important to note that Cook County contains 132 municipalities and is home to more than 5 million people, half of whom live outside Chicago,” said Commissioner Garcia. Commissioner Fritchey added, “We believe that all Cook County residents should have the opportunity to obtain official government identification and this measure would provide for just that.”

As proposed, the ID program would be overseen and administered by the office of the Cook County Clerk. Clerk David Orr is supportive of the proposal, stating tat “This is an important step forward for thousands of people throughout Cook County to efficiently receive proper identification. My office is certainly willing to administer the program, and it is my hope that this proposal moves forward with careful collaboration between the County and City of Chicago.”

The sponsors noted that that a county ID card would also have a positive impact for many local governments and their residents. Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero, a supporter of the proposal, stated that “Providing our residents with a valid government identification will not only help in the administration of local government services but will give our residents a deserved sense of belonging in our community. I applaud the Commissioners for their efforts.”

The Commissioners have been working with stakeholders including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, Communities United and Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois in an effort to address privacy and other potential concerns of municipal identification applicants. Commissioner Garcia noted that the County will not retain copies of applicants’ application documents and pointed out that their proposal contains safety features designed to protect the integrity of the program.

“Today, we honor the full humanity of all our Cook County residents. In this dark climate of xenophobia and divisiveness at the national level, we at Cook County have chosen to be inclusive and welcoming,” said Commissioner Garcia. “By establishing a County identification card, we are leading the way in recognizing that all Cook County residents are full participants in the economic and social life of our communities.” If passed, the Commissioners believe that the County could begin issuing the ID card starting in early 2018.

Many essential County services require proof of identity and/or residency including:
  • Applying for marriage and civil union licenses
  • Obtaining copies of case files and court information with the Clerk of the Circuit Court
  • Requesting medical records and picking up prescriptions at the Cook County Health and Hospital System
  • Visiting a family member or loved one at Cook County Jail
  • Accessing the Cook County Military and Veterans Discount Program
  • Claiming property belonging to a decedent
  • Applying for Homeowner and senior/senior freeze property tax exemption applications
  • Obtaining Low Cost Rabies Vaccinations for pets

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter (1976-1992).

He is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club Lisagor Awards, the 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Award for journalism, and was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media in 2007.

His personal web page is The Daily Hookah at www.TheDailyHookah.com (and www.RayHanania.com).

Hanania writes a weekly syndicated column for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia and is the managing editor of the American Arab online news website, www.TheArabDailyNews.com.

His mainstream columns are published in Chicago's Southwest Side and Suburbs in The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, the Southwest News-Herald and the Des Plaines Valley News.

Hanania is the managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com

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