CHICAGO -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to create a municipal ID card for undocumented immigrants and others sailed through the City Council on Wednesday, but not before a handful of aldermen voiced displeasure with the idea.
Emanuel, who sees the ID as a way to show he's standing up to the federal government and President Donald Trump's promise to crack down on people living in the U.S. illegally, spoke in favor of the ID during the 40 minutes of debate that preceded the 44-4 vote.
"We are a welcoming city," the mayor said. "Everybody here has talked about helping bring someone out of the shadows, to help them get on with their lives."
Emanuel said the federal government's recent deportation of a Mexican dreamer is "a clear erosion" of Trump's pledge not to go after them. "Yes, we are helping people, but we are also creating a line of protection."
The mayor called back to Chicago once welcoming black Americans in the Great Migration, saying the city allowed families from Alabama to come here to open businesses. "This is our moral responsibility," he said.
But Far South Side Alderman Anthony Beale, 9th, repeated his criticism of the ID as a misapplication of funds, saying the state or federal governments are better equipped to deal with the issue. During debate in a committee on the plan last week, Beale noted constituents in his overwhelmingly African-American ward aren't clamoring for the city ID. South Side Alderman David Moore, 17th, also said he couldn't support the plan.
Northwest Side Alderman Nicholas Sposato, 38th, who in recent months has come out against measures proclaiming Chicago a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants, voted no on the ID as well, as did Far Northwest Side Alderman Anthony Napolitano, 41st.
Several aldermen, however, said the city needs to stand up for vulnerable populations like immigrants, homeless people and those who have gotten out of jail and need IDs to get jobs.
"This is more than an ID, it's a start" for people who often don't get much government help, said Southwest Side Alderman Raymond Lopez, 15th.
Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd, said IDs aren't a luxury, "they're a necessity."
The ordinance allows Clerk Anna Valencia to spend $1 million to get the ID program started, though it leaves many questions about how it will be run. It's unclear what proof of identification and residency people will be able to show to get the ID, and exactly what benefits the ID will bring to cardholders.
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