Mayor signs up for first Morristown I.D. card, asks Township and schools to honor them

Mayor holds up his application for Morristown voluntary municipal I.D. card, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor holds up his application for Morristown voluntary municipal I.D. card, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Mayor Tim Dougherty on Tuesday registered for Morristown’s first municipal I.D. card, a voluntary program he said will make life safer for undocumented residents and more convenient for teens and seniors without drivers licenses or other photo identification.

The I.D.s could help people open bank accounts, so they don’t have to carry around valuable passports and wads of cash. They also should help some residents navigate the hospital system more smoothly, register for school, and join the town swimming pool, the Mayor said.

“We’re just trying to make life better for… everyone. That’s really what it comes down to. To make life a little bit easier today than it was yesterday, and hopefully it’ll be a little bit better tomorrow,” Dougherty said at a press conference in town hall, flanked by clergy, immigrants rights advocates and police.

The town council last month unanimously approved the program, modeled after similar ones in New York, San Francisco and Boston, and closer to home, in municipalities such as Dover, Newark, Jersey City and Elizabeth.

Morristown’s hologram-imprinted cards cost $15 ($7 for seniors) and are good for two years. Applicants aged 14 and older must prove their identity and residency on a points system. Points are assigned to documents ranging from passports and driver’s licenses to birth certificates, utility bills and proof of a minor enrolled in a local school.

The town will not inquire about immigration status, nor will it keep any I.D. records beyond the application forms, Dougherty said.

“I don’t think anybody has the right to ask me what my immigration status is,” he said.

Legal citizenship is required for free identification cards issued by Morris County Sheriff James Gannon’s office.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin

Mayor Tim Dougherty with the first municipal I.D. card, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
From left: Carlos Sotelo and Karol Ruiz, Wind of the Spirit; Rev. Brandon Cho, Methodist Church; Rev. Alison Miller, Unitarian Fellowship; Councilwoman Hiliari Davis; Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty; Mayor Tim Dougherty; Brian Lozano and Luca Jobbagy, Wind of the Spirit; Rev. David Silva, Centro Biblico; Capt. Darnell Richardson; Lt. Stuart Greer; at Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Brian Lozano of Wind of the Spirit at Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Karol Ruiz of Wind of the Spirit, and the Rev. Alison Miller of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, at Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Rev. David Silva, pastor of Centro Biblico church, with his new Morristown municipal I.D. card, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Rev. Brandon Cho, pastor of the Morristown United Methodist Church, at rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Councilwoman Hiliari Davis at Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Police Lt. Stuart Greer welcomes Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor's sample I.D. card at Morristown rollout of voluntary municipal I.D. cards, Aug. 1, 2017. (He noted it shaved a few years off his age.) Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor holds up his application for Morristown voluntary municipal I.D. card, Aug. 1, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Dougherty said he hopes the regional Morris School District will accept Morristown I.D. cards when registering students. Council President Stefan Armington has estimated as many as 3,000 undocumented people live in town.

The Mayor, a Democrat running for a third term, added that he hopes neighboring Morris Township, governed by an all-Republican committee, will accept the cards as proof of residency for Morristown teens who want to become members of Township pools to swim with friends from the school district.

District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast and Township Mayor Bruce Sisler could not immediately be reached for comment.

Morristown Police Lt. Stuart Greer said the town police bureau “wholeheartedly” endorses the I.D. program. “We think this is a wonderful way to ensure that people feel secure, they feel safe, and they’re able to communicate with the police department,” he said.

 Wind of the Spirit, a Morristown-based immigrant advocacy group, has been presenting “Know Your Rights” workshops since President Trump has stepped up immigration enforcement.  The municipal I.D. will be another reassuring element for frightened immigrants, said Brian Lozano, community organizer for the nonprofit.

The program was applauded by members of the Morristown area clergy council, who have been urging the town to enact a “Fair and Welcoming” ordinance that encourages undocumented residents to cooperate with local law enforcement without fear of being handed over to federal authorities for deportation.

Such a measure, discussed for months, may be introduced by the council later this month, according to the Mayor.

David Silva, pastor of the Centro Biblico church and a council candidate on Dougherty’s ticket,  took issue with a critic who defended America’s immigration system and spoke against the town I.D. program last month.

“Obviously, she didn’t know what she was talking about. We are in great need of reform. Seeing as the federal government doesn’t do that…we need to bring solutions in our town,” said Silva, who emigrated from Colombia 20 years ago.

Brandon Cho, pastor of the Morristown United Methodist Church, said Morristown’s diverse and welcoming nature reminds him of Honolulu, where he grew up in an immigrant family.

“What this program does is bring us together as a more united community,” Cho said.

Morris County is affluent, but Morristown is home to some of its poorest residents, added the Rev. Alison Miller of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship. At a time of bitter national divisions, honoring our common humanity “is the right thing to do,” she said.

The Mayor praised Morristown as a caring, inclusive place.

“I don’t think I would want to live in a community that doesn’t feel that way,” Dougherty said.

He also managed to slip in a plug for gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy and a jab at Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.), a longtime ally who has aligned himself with the agenda of President Trump and the GOP majority.

“I hope Senators and Congressmen elected in this country start doing their job, and it starts with our own Congressman, to start doing their job, which is representing people. That’s what they’re sent” to Washington for, Dougherty said.

 

 

 

 

 
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10 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t heard of a special law or rules that let new residents work and live in the community without paying the same fees and taxes as everyone else. Are the complainers suggesting that legal citizens never cheat on their taxes or attempt to avoid fines or fees? Our cp Since when can you judge character strictly by status or race. No one is suggesting that anyone should not be accountable for their actions.

  2. This is a publicity stunt, plain and simple and designed to cater to illegals. It is virtually impossible for an adult US citizen to live in this country without a (real) validly issued government ID. Banks have identity requirements for opening accounts called “Know Your Customer” or “KYC”. I doubt they will alter these requirements to accept the Morristown ID cards as a valid form of identification.

  3. Mr. Reap’s comments contains many myths, untruths, and sadly a lack of appreciation for cultural diversity in our community. I challenge him to provide some documentation on the taxation status of immigrants and the “hardships us LEGALS had to go through.”

    Despite the positive impacts of immigrants on our economy and society, harsh Federal policies now threaten to move to a more restricted environment. The responsibility for solving this dilemma lies with Congress where real bipartisan immigration reform legislation should be passed.

    In the meantime Mayor Dougherty, like many mayors in this country, wants to strike a balance by having Morristown be a welcoming city to everyone and a city of law and order. The implementation of the identification card program is a step closer to achieving that balance.

    The id card provides many economic and safety advantages for the town and also brings a level of dignity to immigrants in our community. They now know they truly belong and are a part of Morristown. It communicates something very simple: your community recognizes your humanity. It allows all residents to say: “I am somebody.”

  4. You have got to be kidding me! You can store this next to the silly rainbow stickers on stores, like Starbucks.
    Stop creating problems.

  5. THe mayor said he doesn’t think anyone has the right to ask about immigration status, what a joke! People have the “right” to be here illegally and undocumented, yet no one has the right to ask about the immigration status? will this help keep those undocumented illegal immigrants accountable for paying their hospital bills or paying taxes? Doubt it.

  6. What a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. Last time i checked a social security number was needed for a bank account. The mayor and council are so full of themselves, this is all being done so he can get the minority vote. Its time for him to go, he has done nothing good for this town. I wonder how the town employees feel about him.

  7. Mayor Dougherty and Council thank you for providing a way for the town’s marginalized people to come out into the light.

  8. WOW, this is ABUSE OF POWER. Not fair at all to the people of Morristown who pay taxes and have helped revive this town. This will encourage an influx of illegals to live here. What next they can vote (Im sure they already do) without paying their fair share of taxes and go through the same hardships us LEGALS had to go through.
    Theres no question speedwheel is where a majority of illegals live, look how unsafe and dirty those streets are. Its not perception but reality (take a drive down to any towns where this occurs) that illegals do not share the same pride of the community as citizens who are documented/ LEGAL.

    This mayor does not have my vote next election and I know many are baffled by this.

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