Grand Rapids now accepts consular IDs from immigrants as official identification

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids City Commission moved to accept all countries' consular identification cards as an official ID Tuesday.

The move expands from the city's 2003 acceptance of Mexican issued consular IDs only in its mission to be a welcoming city.

“We are trying to be more inclusive," said Steve Guitar, Grand Rapids Communications Director. "This is a request from the community to accept these additional forms of ID so we are. And we find that it’s a great way to expand our services to the community.”

While consular IDs may be considered controversial, they allow immigrants-undocumented or not-to open a bank account, get a library card, and set up payment for utilities like water and trash removal. Hispanic Center of West Michigan Executive Director Roberto Torres says this is a positive move toward inclusion.

“To be able to allow other people the same ability to be a resident of our community, that’s what it does," said Torres.

Many consulates issue the consular IDs to citizens of their country who live abroad. The ID does not replace a driver's license, nor does it replace any state or federal ID.

“I think what the acceptance of the consulate card does is it says to many Latino communities that arrive here in West Michigan, and particularly in Grand Rapids, that we welcome you," said Torres.

Guitar says since 2003 the city has had no issues stemming from accepting Mexican consular IDs.

“Foreign nationals that are doing business with the city of Grand Rapids will now have valid ID," said Guitar.  "So we can identify who they are and where they live.”

FOX 17 also spoke with Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky who said Wednesday, "From a law enforcement perspective, this ID is better than no ID. However, it does not resolve the complexity of immigration issues we face in this country.”

The Hispanic Center of West Michigan also organizes annual information events regarding consular IDs and also arranges transportation to consulates in Detroit and Chicago for residents. For more information, see their website.

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