Council discusses strategies to make city more welcoming for immigrants

ID cards for immigrants being proposed

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Another controversial nationwide debate is coming before the Charlotte City Council.

Monday evening, the Immigrant Integration Task Force presented their initial findings to city council members.

"Diversity has always been a secret to Charlotte's success. We have to embrace it," Councilman David Howard said.

In November of 2013, the council created the task force in efforts to "maximize immigrants' civic and economic contributions to Charlotte". The group consists of 29 members of local government and immigrant organizations.

"One of the reasons we've grown here in Charlotte so much is because of immigrants and they're important for our diversity," task force chair Stefan Latorre said.

The presentation illustrated a diverse and growing city who's foreign born community has grown from one percent in 1990 to 15 percent currently.

The task force presented a list of 27 recommended strategies that they believe would create a more inviting environment for immigrants.

"Are we going to embrace this diversity so it can help us grow and help our community? These are people living in our community. Or are we going to try to separate them and push them out," Latorre asked.

The most controversial of the strategies involved the creation of a voluntary community identification card.

The task force's recommendation reads in part: "The card will improve public safety by helping immigrants become more willing to report crimes and allowing law enforcement to identify individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain photo identification. With multiple functions it can benefit all Charlotte residents".

"As long as you're using our roads, as long as you're using our schools, we should find a way to deal with that," Howard said.

Absent from the presentation was any differentiation between documented and non-documented immigrants. Task Force members said all immigrants were considered when the strategies were drafted, which concerns Councilman Ed Driggs.

"There are federal laws in place, we need to respect them. The way the thing is drafted so far, it's often not clear if we're treating groups the same," Driggs said.

The council took no action on the recommended strategies. As of now there is no exact timeline on when this will be discussed again.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.