RICHMOND—The city has put on hold a controversial plan to offer identification cards to immigrants amid what the city manager called “a misunderstanding” between city officials and the local migrant outreach program.
“We were under the impression it was for legal residents,” City Manager David Evans said yesterday. “The Hispanic outreach office wanted it to be offered to everyone,” regardless of their immigration status.
A Herald-Leader story Saturday prompted a lot of calls to city officials and Lexington talk radio from critics who were, in Evans’ words, “barbecuing the city” over the program.
Many of them thought, incorrectly, that the identification card would confer legal status on illegal immigrants, Evans said.
The city is asking the Immigration and Naturalization Service for an opinion on whether the program conforms to agency regulations. National experts said last week Richmond would be the first municipality in the country to offer immigrant ID cards.
Because it was not clear when the INS response would come, the city has dropped plans to hand out identification cards tonight at the first meeting of the Latino/Hispanic Community Police Academy.
Evans was quoted in the Richmond Register newspaper Sunday as saying the Herald-Leader story was wrong. He told the Register that applicants would have to show proof they were here legally, and the city would not issue cards to illegal immigrants.
The Richmond newspaper did not contact the Herald-Leader for comment about the story, headlined, “Newspaper gives wrong information about IDs.”
Evans said he made the comment to the Richmond paper before he had a chance to speak with Anez Powell.
Yesterday, Evans met with Anez Powell and learned that her organization and city officials had different ideas about who was to be included, Evans said.
Evans acknowledged that the information required to obtain a card did not include any document saying a resident was here legally.