Kansas City Council approves issuance of free municipal IDs to the undocumented. Is it even legal?

The Kansas City, Missouri city council has approved the issuance of municipal identification cards for undocumented people – a year after even Kansas’ Democrat governor agreed to outlaw the practice in the Sunflower State.

KCMO is calling its new city ID the “Fountain Card,” an allusion to the city’s self description as the City of Fountains.

The council and mayor voted 10-1 Thursday to authorize the city Health Department to issue the free cards, valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors. Proponents say the cards would help those without state or federal identification — especially illegal immigrants and the homeless — to access city services. They could not be used for state or federal purposes, however.

The cards, proposed by Mayor Quinton Lucas and Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw and expected to cost a quarter-million dollars, simply aren’t necessary, says Councilwoman Heather Hall, who cast the lone no vote.

“If residents who do not drive need an ID card, they can get a state-issued ID,” Hall told The Heartlander. “Municipalities do not need to issue individual cards.”

In fact, even Democrat Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly agrees, signing a law last year that prohibits sanctuary cities and prevents that state’s local governments from issuing their own ID cards.

“The responsibility to address our broken immigration system rests with Congress and cannot be resolved at the municipal level,” Kelly said in signing it.

The Kansas law banning the practice was inspired by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas’ decision to issue its own municipal IDs. The law prevented it.

The Heartlander has asked Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey if KCMO’s cards are legal under state law and, if so, whether he thinks the state needs a law banning the cards as Kansas has. His office reports it is “looking into the matter.”

Vetting of applicants for KCMO’s new Fountain Card is much less stringent than for other forms of ID. Applicants will technically need to show other identification, but it can range from a student or work ID or title to property, to Medicare and Medicaid documents, a utility bill or just documentation from a shelter with the applicant’s name.

The Fountain Card not only will provide access to city services, but also to opening bank accounts at WeDevelopment Federal Credit Union, the mission of which is “to build member and community wealth for residents of the East Side of Kansas City, Missouri.”


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