Torres administration revives plan to issue IDs to undocumented immigrants | Paterson Times

Torres administration revives plan to issue IDs to undocumented immigrants


Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration has revived a controversial plan to issue municipal identification cards through the city’s health department to undocumented immigrants.

Torres administration officials said the program will help not only undocumented immigrants, but also residents without photo identification cards.

Health department director Donna Nelson-Ivy said it will help the city’s homeless population in accessing social, library, and medical services.

“This is for all Patersonians. It’s for whomever wants one as long as you are a resident of Paterson,” responded law director Domenick Stampone when asked whether the program is geared towards undocumented immigrants.

“So the ID will be available to undocumented immigrants as well?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, last Tuesday.

“It would include anyone who can show proof they live in the city of Paterson. We’d not ask their immigration status,” said Stampone.

Morris said he is not comfortable with the proposed program. Stampone pointed to other cities like New Haven and San Francisco that have similar programs.

“I don’t care about New Haven. I live here. I really don’t care what other cities have done,” responded Morris.

Stampone at one point attempted to sell the program as a humanitarian endeavor that will benefit vulnerable populations.

“Do you have a similar program in Haledon?” asked Morris.

Stampone, who serves as the mayor of the neighboring town, indicated his town did not.

Morris said the Silk City will follow suit when Stampone’s community decides to roll out a municipal identification program.

Other council members expressed support for the program.

“I’m in full support of this idea because there are many illegal immigrants in this city that don’t have documents,” said Alex Mendez, councilman at-large. When his colleagues pointed out “illegal immigrant” is a loaded term, he substituted the phrase for “undocumented” immigrants.

Though he supports the program Mendez wanted to know the cost to run the program. Nelson-Ivy said the program will provide free ID cards to residents. She said the cost ranges from $7,000 to $13,000.

Council president William McKoy, who said he supports the initiative, said the city should not cater to homeless individuals, many of whom originate from other towns.

“We don’t necessarily want to cater to that population,” said McKoy. His remarks followed Morris’ statement about neighboring communities dropping off their problem residents to the city.

“Most of the homeless folks didn’t start out with living in Paterson,” said Morris when Nelson-Ivy said the program will assist the homeless. He also found fault with a provision in the resolution which states the applicant need only to prove he has lived in the city for 15 days.

Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, said the program will assist elderly residents without photo identification cards. However, those residents do not need to wait on the municipal ID program.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission issues more robust photo ID cards to residents who are able to present the necessary identifying documents. The commission requires a New Jersey resident to meet the six-point ID requirements prior to issuing the ID card for $24, according to the state.

The Torres administration pushed for the program in mid-March, but council members tabled the measure until it was revived again last Tuesday. At one point, Torres even attempted to start up the program without the council’s approval, according to municipal sources.

The council will vote on the municipal identification program measure at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.

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  • Plumber

    No one will benefit from this I.D. scheme, just the city of Paterson, who will issue these I.D's for a price, also these I.D.'s will only be honored in the city of Paterson, no other township will accept and honor an I.D. card unless it's issued by a county or state agency. Anyone with the exception of, persons being here (USA) illegally can go to the N.J.D.M.V. or to the County Building in their perspective County and apply for a legit I.D. card. Yea right free ID's cards but the taxpayers are going to foot the bill, and guess what, other illegal immigrants for surrounding towns or states will also enjoy the free ID program, how is the city going to prove residence, and so on and so on. Eventually there will be a cost to obtain these ID cards.These politicians, anything to make a buck, next they'll be selling snake oil. SMH

  • Charlene Sparks

    I agree with Plumber there is no need for a ID Program. The Passaic County Sherrif’s Office Issue free id’s to Seniors you just have to call and see what days they are being done. They also issue id’s to immigrants and homeless. This is a another waste of tax papers money that the Mayor is pushing Donna Ivy-Nelson to support and If Ivy-Nelson is involved, I am assuming she is going to want to have that done in the Board of Health which seems to be the only building she wants to add new programs to but will not provide us with supplies or even have the custodians sweep and mop the offices. I think that $7,000 to $13,000 should be used to clean up the place. The Mayor and Donna Ivy-Nelson was walking around the building on Friday discussing what needs to be done why don’t they clean up the building and show some concern for the staff that is their already and stop worrying about adding new programs. Here a few questions. Are they going to hire new employees to run this ID program or are they going to use the existing employees that they have? If they are going to use the existing employee that is a lot more responsibility will they be getting a raise to do all this additional work. I am quite sure there is an application process, typing of the application that will be in addition to all the daily duties that the staff has now. Will the ID Progam be run out of the new office where Ivy-Nelson wanted to put the Mental Health Clinc.

    I urge the City Council members to ask those questions and show concern for the City staff and their Safety. Don’t get me wrong New Programs are good but when there is a hiring freeze that means to me that you are going to be using the existing staff that is already in place for the same low wages and adding more responsibility. The Board of Health is haradous to your health. On the second floor when it rain likes it is today. There is garbage cans in the middle of the floor to catch the water. Missing ceiling tiles, dust, filth everywhere. The City Council Members should come by and take a tour of the building sometimes.