‘You feel like an outsider:’ Orange County leaders discuss community IDs

IDs would allow residents without a drivers license or passport to participate in everyday activities

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County commissioners are considering a proposal to issue community IDs to residents — including homeless persons, undocumented immigrants and children in foster care.

It would not take the place of a Florida Driver’s license or a U.S. Passport, but county leaders said it would make some residents feel like they belong and allow them to participate in basic activities.

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District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson brought the proposal to the board during a meeting on Nov. 29.

“There is a very large gap in what is provided to individuals and what they’re able to access, and those things are really critical for quality of life,” Wilson said.

Wilson wants the county to partner with a local non-profit, Hope Community Center, to issue community IDs.

Wilson said these IDs are needed by domestic violence victims, undocumented immigrants, refugee families, the homeless and children in foster care, among others.

The purpose is to make it possible for residents without licenses and other forms of ID to engage in this list of everyday activities, like opening a bank account or visiting family in the hospital.

So far, the commissioner said about one dozen county leaders wrote letters in support, including Orange County Sheriff John Mina.

Felipe Sousa Lazaballet, executive director at Hope Community Center said he was undocumented for 15 years. He just attained U.S. citizenship last year.

“I was afraid to call the police. I was afraid, even if I was a victim of a crime or even if I witnessed a crime, to report it, simply because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sent to Brazil, where I’m actually from,” Lazaballet said. “If you have an ID, that interaction with a police officer becomes so much easier.”

Lazaballet said many residents can relate.

He emphasized though, the community IDs would not be immigration relief, but it could ease anxieties.

“If you don’t have an ID, you don’t feel welcomed in the community that you live in. You feel like an outsider,” Lazaballet said.

The ID cannot be used to drive, fly or vote, but Lazaballet said it can still be a necessary tool to make everyday life easier for several groups of people.

“This is an ID that can give us an opportunity to support the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

The ID program could cost about $250,000 if approved. Before residents are issued an ID, they would be educated on what you can and cannot do with the ID card.

Orange county commissioners plan to discuss the community IDs again in the spring after gathering more information. They will then vote to have a public hearing.

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Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.