NJ Towns Giving Illegal Immigrants ID Cards

Card helps police identify accident victims and could help immigrants get library cards or cash paychecks at the bank.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A prototype for the Princeton ID card.

    The hate mail has already started coming in, according to Princeton Borough Police Commissioner Kevin Wilkes.

    "'It is outrageous Princeton would consider giving ID cards to (all caps) ILLEGAL ALIENS,' " quoted Wilkes from one e-mail received at Borough Hall.

    But as Princeton Borough and neighboring Princeton Township have become the third and fourth communities in the state of New Jersey to recognize the cards, they seem to be an idea that's catching on -- even as Arizona cracks down on immigrants without proper documentation.

    NJ Towns Giving Illegal Immigrants ID Cards

    [NY] NJ Towns Giving Illegal Immigrants ID Cards
    Card helps police identify accident victims and could help immigrants get library cards or cash paychecks at the bank.

    The cards were first issued in Asbury Park two years ago, where that city's Latino Community Liaison, Eve Silver, said they filled a need for some sort of proof of identification for people who are otherwise invisible to their neighbors.

    "It is a community card sponsored  by a community organization for community use," explained Silver, who first pursued the idea with her police department and other city officials.

    "It is good," said Kevin Estuardo, 15, who now lives in Princeton but said he was born in Guatemala.

    Maria Juega of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund said she expects as many as 5 to 10 people a week to sign up for the cards.

    "It's doesn't establish a government ID, it doesn't establish a driving privilege, it doesn't establish residency privilege," said Commissioner Wilkes,  who argued that the card helps his police officers identify accident victims, for example.

    Other uses: Once an immigrant has established residency, such as with a utility bill, the ID card could help them get a library card or cash a paycheck at the bank.

    But judging from the e-mails sent in advance of this weekend's first set of issued cards, not everyone in this part of the state likes the idea.

    "They should apply for status as a legal, and if they can't do that, they should be deported," said Robert Sussna, 71, of nearby Delaware Township, N.J.

    Nevertheless, Asbury Park's Silver said she's had interest in the card from other New Jersey communities, mentioning Lakewood, Red Bank, Deal and Long Branch specifically.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY