Two Cook County commissioners proposing county I.D. card

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A Cook County ID would be similar to one already approved by Chicago - and that plan was modeled on the approach used in San Franciso. | Photo provided by The Center for Popular Democracy

A few weeks after the City Council approved the creation of a new municipal identification card, two Cook County commissioners on Wednesday introduced plans for a similar card in the county.

And like the city’s program, the Cook County version is aimed, in part, at people who are living in the county illegally.

“Today, Cook County has an opportunity to honor the full humanity of all our residents in the dark climate of xenophobia and divisiveness at the national level. Here at Cook County, we can choose to be inclusive and welcoming,” said Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Garcia and Commissioner John Fritchey said they were inspired by the success of similar programs in San Francisco and New York, among other cities. The Cook County card would be available to the approximately 2.4 million residents in the county who live outside Chicago.

“Almost every interaction with county government requires an individual to have a form of government I.D.” Fritchey said. “The reality is however that there are many groups within the county and within the country that have historically had trouble obtaining that type of I.D.”

Fritchey said those people might include the homeless, seniors and people leaving the Cook County jail and hoping to re-enter society. The card, which would be administrated by the the Cook County clerk’s office, would be intended primarily to access county services, officials said.

But why not simply apply for a state identification?

“The information that they require to get a state I.D. is somewhat more stringent than what we’re looking for,” Fritchey said, without specifying.

Fritchey’s office later said proof of identification would likely include such things as a United States or foreign passport, a consular I.D. card or a foreign driver’s license.

An ordinance in support of the program is expected to be introduced at the commissioners meeting July 19. Under the plan, a card would cost $10, Fritchey said.

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