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Milwaukee Begins Issuing Municipal ID Cards

Susan Bence
Milwaukee Public Radio
New City of Milwaukee ID card celebrated with song Friday morning.

Alderman Jose Perez was all smiles as people of different ages, nationalities and sexual orientations lingered after his official work was done. City leaders had just thrown a news conference to mark Milwaukee’s new municipal identification card.

Perez helped create the program.

“That by ordinance city departments must accept. So if you want to take your construction materials, or recyclables or your trash up to 37th and Lincoln to put them in the city dump, you can use that to prove you are a City of Milwaukee resident,” Perez says.

The card also opens library doors for its holder.

Perez says perhaps more importantly local police officers are pleased with the move. They prefer, that the people they stop, have identification.

“Now that now you have an identifying photo with an address and a date of birth. If we can put an identification in someone’s hand and improve police community relations. If it’s a simple conversation, maybe a ticket, or a violation of an ordinance,” Perez says.

Edie Pasek has a driver’s license, yet still hasn’t felt safe.

Pasek is a member of Gender Queer Milwaukee and has run into unsettling situations. Pasek believes his new city ID will make life better.

“From getting carded when I go to bars or restaurants for drinks, or anytime I have to present ID it’s almost humiliating. It was bad enough when I had my old ID, but with this one, there’s not going to be any of that 'you don’t really seems like a man or a girl.' I’m not going to be thinking everyone’s judging me all the time.” Pasek adds, “It’s also really convenient because you can get a lot of different city services with it.”

Credit Susan Bence
Maribel Murillo (left at table) helps Maria Guadalupe Romero-Soto complete her ID paperwork.

One person is oblivious to the crowd and excitement. Maria Guadalupe Romero-Soto is busy filling out the paperwork. She says she wants to feel her new ID in her hand.

City employee Maribel Murillo is helping Romero-Soto and serves as translator.

“Now she’s not going to be able to feel bad and she’ll be able to say 'This is me,'” Murillo says. She explains Romero-Soto’s ID card will help when she purchases medicine.

“And, at school functions. She goes to her grandchildren’s event at school and you have to show an ID,” Morello says.

Credit Susan Bence
Moving through the process.

Emotion spills quietly from the woman.

“Her children bought a dog. The dog came home with a license and a name. She couldn’t understand why an animal could have a name and be registered and she couldn’t,” Morello says.

Romero-Soto and her family have lived in Milwaukee since 2000.

“She’s a single mother of six children. When her husband passed away, her youngest was three years old. Now he’s 23,” Morello translates.

Romero-Soto solemnly enters the city license office. She raises her right hand as officials notarize her documents and take her photo.

Those few minutes waiting for the machine to spew out her card seemed an eternity.

When her ID arrives, Romero-Soto cries quiet tears. She says she’ll celebrate her official identity next weekend on one of her son’s birthdays.

Her next dream is to get a driver’s license.

Credit Susan Bence
Maria Guadalupe Romero-Soto has lived in Milwaukee since 2000. Now she says she has an official identity.

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