By: Albino Salinas
Proving your identity is a basic necessity that is often an obstacle for the undocumented community. Having government-recognized identification is essential in order to ensure access to basic services including housing, healthcare, education, banking, and employment. According to Vera, a national organization that advocates for immigrants, 829k non-citizens reside in Chicago alone (2017). A lack of proper identification may add more to the fear of immigrants interacting with law enforcement. Barbara Martinez, a manager at Heartland Alliance, argues that “We need more people to get certified as agents to help undocumented people apply for ITINs, and help educate them about alternative IDs and resources around them”.
An ITIN, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is not a form of ID, but it is a government-issued number that helps individuals comply with U.S. tax laws. ITIN holders are not eligible for all of the tax benefits of U.S. citizens. If you reside in Illinois “The new state tax policy [Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion] will bring additional cash relief to 4.5 million low-income Illinoisans each year. Now… immigrants who file taxes with an ITIN will be eligible for the credit, and the credit amount is increased from 18% to 20% of the federal credit” (Heartland Alliance, 2022). This will bring great financial help to the low-income undocumented community. At this point, there are three valid government IDs available to the undocumented community residing in Illinois:
Consular Identification: Also known as the Matricula Consular which is used among Mexican citizens living in the United States. It is issued by the Mexican Consulate. Using the Matricula with an ITIN, undocumented individuals have the opportunity to open a bank account.
Driver’s License: Illinois now allows an undocumented individual to obtain a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL). Although. it is not a valid ID. It does provide the ability for the undocumented community to be able to comply with law enforcement.
Municipal Identification: CityKey is a government-issued ID available to all Chicago residents regardless of immigration status. It offers access to jobs, healthcare, and housing.
As a local community member who is undocumented said, “It is good to see that there are more resources available now to the undocumented community than there were 30 years ago”.