Governing Undocumented Iowans

Community IDIOWA CITY–Johnson County announced acceptance of applications for a new Community ID program on Wednesday. The county seeks to become more welcoming, and to resolve a practical public safety issue problem—undocumented residents prefer to stay in the shadows.

“Johnson County will be the first community in the Midwest, and the first outside a major metropolitan area, to offer community-issued identification,” according to a press release. “The Community ID program is designed to help people who may have difficulty getting a state-issued ID, such as seniors who no longer drive, the homeless, people in poverty or transition, and new immigrants. A Community ID can help these people interact with law enforcement, local government, pharmacies and banks.”

Rod Sullivan, Johnson County supervisor, explained the public safety aspect of the program in an April 9 email.

Why do we need a Community ID? I have a very personal story. After years of doing nothing, a few years ago, the board of supervisors finally began taking action against the criminals that own Regency Mobile Home Park. State law severely limits the ability of the board to intervene, but there were dozens of credible reports of fraud coming from Regency.

Johnson County detectives swooped in, gathered all the info they could, and began following up on leads. Then they ran into a stone wall. Most of the people they needed to speak with refused to talk to them. These folks saw law enforcement coming, and they went the other way–even when they were innocent victims!

I spoke at length with the lead detective on the case, and he said that this avoidance of law enforcement was common. When I asked why, he said it all came back to a lack of ID.

This illustrates the number one reason for instituting a Community ID – public safety. We need victims and witnesses to come forward in order to solve crimes and see to it that justice is served. The Community ID will help with this.

There have already been hundreds of applications for Community IDs. The program requires both documentary proof of identity and proof of residency. It is an open question whether the victims and witnesses Sullivan referred to will actually come forward to secure a Community ID, or change their behavior.

In an unrelated incident undocumented immigrants made news Wednesday when Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) condemned the concept of “Sanctuary City” for the umpteenth time in the wake of the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco. The accused is a seven-time felon who has been deported to Mexico five times, according to the story.

“Sanctuary cities exist because of the left, because of the open border policy,” King told Newsmax. “Yes, there is blood on their hands and San Francisco is at fault. All of California is a sanctuary state today, and many states have these jurisdictions like this.”

Having a Community ID is not the same as being a Sanctuary City, but it may represent what is possible in governing the undocumented.

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