#KnowYourRights – Community IDs Edition

Hope CommUnity Center seeks partnership with Orange County to protect our most vulnerable.

Hope CommUnity Center is working to partner with Orange County to provide IDs for residents, including homeless people, undocumented immigrants, and children in foster care. The organization believes that community IDs would be a “lifesaver” for people who currently lack simple forms of identification. The IDs would help individuals prove they live in Orange County and enable them to access county facilities and services, such as getting a library card or applying for rental assistance. However, the IDs would not allow people to vote, drive, or travel in and out of the U.S.

The IDs would not replace a Florida driver’s license or U.S. passport. Still, they would allow residents without these forms of identification to participate in everyday activities such as opening a bank account or visiting family in the hospital.

District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson brought the proposal to the board on November 29th. Wilson wants the county to partner with Hope Community Center to issue the IDs, which domestic violence victims, undocumented immigrants, refugee families, the homeless, and children in foster care would need, among others. The purpose of the IDs is to enable residents without licenses or other forms of ID to participate in basic activities that many of us take for granted.

So far, around a dozen county leaders have written letters supporting the proposal, including Orange County Sheriff John Mina. If approved, the ID program could cost approximately $250,000. Before residents are issued an ID, they would be educated on what they can and cannot do with the card.

Felipe Sousa Lazaballet, Hope Community Center’s Executive Director, has spoken about his experience as an undocumented immigrant for 15 years and how obtaining an ID can make a significant difference in a person’s life. “If you have an ID, that interaction with a police officer becomes much easier,” he said. However, Lazaballet emphasized that community IDs would not provide immigration relief but could help ease anxieties for those who feel like outsiders within their community.

IDs cannot be used to drive, fly, or vote, but they can still be a necessary tool to make everyday life easier for several groups of people. “This is an ID that can allow us to support the most vulnerable among us,” Lazaballet said.

Orange County commissioners plan to discuss the community IDs further in the spring and hold a public hearing before deciding. As advocates for the rights of all residents in our communities, Hope CommUnity Center continues to work tirelessly to defend their rights and bring about a much-needed change in Central Florida.