Tifton leaders hope to solve identity problems - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tifton leaders hope to solve identity problems

October 9, 2005

Tifton-- It's been over a week since a rash of deadly home invasions left the Hispanic community in Tifton in fear. Five people are in custody for robbing and murdering six Hispanic men, who law enforcement calls easy targets.

Members of the Hispanic community applaud the city of Tifton's attempt to come up with solutions to identity problems. "For people that come just directly from Mexico without any papers, it's hard for them just to get identification," says Veronica Ruiz. Because of no identification, some immigrants aren't able to open bank accounts which causes them to keep large amounts of cash. This adds up to being easy targets for robbery.

"There are measures we need to take to ensure their safety in the future," says Remedios Gomez-Arnau. Consul General of Mexico Remedios Gomez-Arnau is here to talk with authorities and the people about ways of protection. That protection begins with a valid ID.

"People can first of all come and denounce crimes and they can open bank accounts," says Gomez-Arnou. She wants banks and authorities in the area to allow Hispanics to use the Matricula Consular, a card issued in Mexico. "It says the name of the person, the full name and the place of birth, the date of birth," says Gomez-Arnou.

Mayor Paul Johnson met with bank representatives on Friday to come up with answers. "Some of these people just don't have adequate identification but a commitment was made to work on that," says Johnson. But he says a bigger problem is trust.

"It's a matter of trust, likewise with law enforcement. We ask them to share information but they come from a culture where you just don't do that perhaps," says Johnson.

The community says the lack of trust comes from fear. "Yeah, because they're scared to ask," says Ruiz. But questions are now being asked by members of the community and authorities hope they have the answers to ensure everyone's safety.

The city is also working with Social Security on more efficient ways for Hispanics to get work cards. Two banks in the Tifton area agreed on Friday to accept the Mexican ID.

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