A government issued ID is considered a standard fact of life to many, but the Immigrant Justice Coalition in Boone recognizes that access to photo IDs has become a barrier to accessing resources for many immigrants in our community. On July 10, the Immigrant Justice Coalition held a photo ID event in which migrants in the high country could enroll to receive a photo ID. Co-chair of the IJC, Jorge Escobar, said that for the last three years his organization has held drives to provide photo IDs to migrants in the community in conjunction with FaithAction.

FaithAction is an organization from Greensboro which “runs the set up and does all the manual labor This has been a “looming, growing need” for photo IDs for undocumented immigrants since 2011, Majoni said. In 2011, the federal government passed legislation in which undocumented immigrants could no longer receive driver’s licenses. While the IJC runs the ID drive, Majoni said that FaithAction is responsible for making and mailing out the IDs.

Chatty Majoni is the IJC’s chair of the FaithAction ID drive subcommittee, organizing the cooperation between the two groups to run the photo ID drive. Outside of the IJC, Majoni works to provide resources to the Latinx community in Boone through her day job as the services coordinator for OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter), a nonprofit which provides resources, support and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

To advertise the event and invite everybody to sign up for an ID, Majoni said that social media and flyers around the community were used to spread the news. However, the most effective method, Majoni said, was word of mouth.

Majoni said that the drive was “super successful” and while she does not have an exact count, she said that the drive provided over 128 ID cards.

Escobar said that individuals older than the age of 18 are eligible to receive the ID, however, this is not a firm rule. “We had a boy of 16 or 17 years old,” he said, “who did not have any form of ID, not even a passport.” He said that FaithAction “made an exception” for him so that he would have access to a form of photo ID.

“Most of our undocumented immigrants don’t have any form of identification,” Majoni said. “If they are being stopped by the police, they have to be able to identify themselves, and they’re more likely to just get a ticket instead of being arrested (if they have an ID). So that was a big draw for us.” Escobar also said that in the instance of a car accident in which a report would be filed an ID is needed, but clarified that “It is not a license to drive.”

Aside from traffic stops, Escobar noted that the IDs are important “primarily in schools.”

“To enroll kids in school, pick kids up from school, or go to a meeting inside the school” are all situations in which having a form of photo ID are required, Escobar said. There are many other situations in which IDs are integral parts of everyday life, according to Majoni. She said that going to hospitals and pharmacies also requires an ID. Coordinating with local organizations, government and the Boone Police Department, Majoni and Escobar said that IJC is working to expand the network of places where the FaithAction IDs are accepted.

“All of the IDs we have from our countries,” Escobar said, “are different.” Noting the different information, ways that dates are written in different countries, and the fact they are written in Spanish, Escobar said that “this can cause confusion.” The FaithAction IDs are written in English and conform to what IDs look like in the US, simplifying matters according to Escobar.

At the drive held on July 10, Majoni said IDs were not the only resource offered to the community. Vaccines were also made available, and Majoni said that 21 people were vaccinated at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic that was onsite, stating that “we did not expect that many people to get the vaccine.”

“We had the option of all three (vaccines), so everybody got to choose which one they wanted.” Ultimately, Majoni said that many of the younger individuals received the Pfizer vaccine since that is the one approved for younger people,” however, many of the adults elected to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it is only one dose.

“More than anything,” Escobar said, “we are focused on supporting the community.”

The interview with Jorge Escobar was translated by Marisa Mecke.

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