As City ID Rollout Nears, Questions Remain

City residents express concerns about the city ID card program at a public forum on Oct. 8. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

City residents express concerns about the city ID card program at a public forum on Oct. 8. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

By: Tyler Daniels

Originally Published: October 12, 2014

City lawmakers and local nonprofits are working together to hammer out the details of the city ID program, scheduled to roll out in January 2015.

The program particularly impacts the Latino population of New York, where the Mexican community is the third-largest immigrant group in the city and believed to have the largest undocumented population.

This card is “meant to be for people who otherwise have been unable to get other government-issued ID,” such as a driver’s license, said the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs, Nisha Agarwal. She hopes that undocumented immigrants will apply for the cards “because it will enable them to interact with law enforcement, get into schools, get into city buildings in a way that they have not been able to do so far.”

According to data from the New York City Record, approximately “half of New York City residents age 16 and over do not have a New York State Driver’s License.”

A big selling point for the cards was its ability for members of the undocumented community to obtain bank accounts. A 2009 report found that over 60 percent of Mexicans in New York do not have bank accounts — the highest percentage of any community in the city.

Yet it remains unclear which banks and credit agencies will actually accept the ID cards. Banks have strict regulations on the types of IDs they can accept, in an efforts to prevent fraud and even terrorism. “We remain concerned about the potential conflicts with state and federal laws,” said Karen Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the New York Bankers Association. Specifically, they worry whether the city will issue IDs without making cardholders sufficiently prove their identity.

Commissioner Agarwal confirmed that the city is in touch with the bankers association and that the city is “very hopeful and quite confident that our process very much complies with federal and state rules around banking.” The city has not finalized what documents will be required to obtain an ID card.

While banks question whether the ID requirement is too lax, some community members and organizations worry that the IDs might collect too much information.

In July, for example, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a statement opposing the ID card program, saying that the data collected by the city could be turned over to state and federal law enforcement without notifying the cardholders. The NYCLU says that the IDs invite “New Yorkers to gamble with the stakes as high as prosecution or even deportation.”

Deyanira Del Rio, of the New Economy Project, a local community advocacy group that works to end economic inequalities, acknowledged there is some trade-off. “There’s always these competing concerns,” she said. “On the one hand, there are risks to handing over more and more information about yourself to authorities, and then on the other hand there’s the reality of trying to live your daily life here.”

Daniel Coates, from Make the Road New York, a local nonprofit that builds the power of Latino and working-class communities, believes there’s no precedent for federal agencies, such as Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to collect information on ID card holders, as it has not happened with other similar programs around the county, like Oakland and New Haven.

The ID card program though does not address other critical problems among the undocumented community. One City College student, who wished to remain anonymous because her family is undocumented, said that her family is already able to obtain a bank account because they have an ID issued from the Mexican consulate, a consular ID card. While many undocumented Mexicans in New York have a consular ID card, it is not as credible in the city as a type of U.S. identification.

A bigger issue for the student is her family’s inability to obtain driver’s licenses, which will not change with a municipal ID.

Moreover, the city’s “doubly undocumented” residents, who lack documentation from their home countries as well as from the United States, will still face problems come January. “As inclusive as the municipal ID mission wants to be, it’s pretty inevitable that there are going to be some people that are going to have a really hard time being able to gain access to the program,” said Del Rio. “It’s that Catch-22 where you need ID to get ID.”

Paul Lagunes, a Columbia University professor who has studied the implementation of similar programs in other cities, thinks that New York has been mindful of the limitations of implementing an ID card program. And “the policy should be a success” in an effort for the city to signal that it is a welcoming community to all.

(Originally published at:

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Modi´s Madison Square Garden Visit Draws Opposition

Anti-Modi protestors line up between 6th and 7th Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

Anti-Modi protestors line up between 6th and 7th Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

By: Tyler Daniels and Natalie Schachar

Originally Published: September 29, 2014

Inside Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi basked in a festival of national pride as he met with nearly 20,000 Indian-Americans.

Outside the arena, the assessment of Modi was more mixed as small groups of clamorous supporters and protestors– also from the Indian diaspora – argued about whether the new prime minister is a Hindu hero or an international villain.

Modi’s supporters congregated on 7th avenue near an entrance to Penn Station, where they waved Indian flags and carried signs that read ¨PM Modi: USA must join India and BRICS.”

Just across the street, opposition protestors offered a different message. ¨Modi, Modi, you can’t hide. You committed genocide,” they chanted. Some held signs comparing the Prime Minister and his party to Hitler and ISIS. The chants refer to allegations that Modi bears responsibility for the deaths of up to 2,000 Muslims in 2002 riots in India’s Gujarat state, where Modi was chief minister.

In 2005, the U.S. State Department denied him a tourist visa due to “severe violations of religious freedom,” but an Indian court ruling subsequently said there was no evidence for the anti-Muslim riot allegations. Still, the charges have continued to trail Modi’s rise to political stardom. This past Friday, a federal court in New York issued a summons to Modi for a riot-related lawsuit filed by the American Justice Center.

Indian Muslims were among those in the crowd of some 1,200 protestors on Sunday, but so were Sikhs, another religious minority in India, where Hindus make up over 80 percent of the population. Sikhs who gathered in opposition expressed anger about  the Indian Army’s 1984 storming of the Sikh Golden Temple and subsequent anti-Sikh riots in India. “It’s not about only Modi, it’s about Hinduism. Hindus are killing other people,” said protestor Rana Singh. But the real problem, said Singh, is “the government, not normal Hindus.¨

Modi supporter Udhav Joshi dismissed the Sikh protestors, noting that Modi “wasn’t even in power¨ in 1984.

But Indian minorities were not the only ones who objected to the Prime Minister’s first visit to the U.S. since his election in May. “These atrocities that were committed in Gujarat in 2002 were attempted to be committed in the name of all Hindus, and especially the Gujarati Hindus,” said Svati Shah, a Gujarati Hindu and professor of Urban Studies and Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, who addressed the crowd of protestors. “Narendra Modi does not speak for me. He does not speak for other Gujarati Hindus.”

Shreenath Menon, a Modi supporter, expressed his desire for India to move forward.  “The supreme court verdict is clean against him,” said Menon, referring to 2012 findings from a Supreme Court appointed commission that exonerated Modi from wrongdoing during the Gujarat riots. “India has learned from its mistakes,” he said.                      

Can You Teach College Students To Be Charitable?

(Here is a story I did for the WAMU 88.5, a Washington D.C., NPR member station. The radio version of story here.)

My human services class presents a check to Brainy Camps. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

GWU human services class presents a check to Brainy Camps. (Photo Credit: Peter Konwerski)

By: Tyler Daniels
May 23, 2014

Washington, D.C., has the highest concentration of nonprofit organizations in the country — over 12,000 of them. Many of these nonprofits compete with each other for a limited amount of funding from foundations of all shapes and sizes.

Students at the George Washington University Human Services Program are experiencing nonprofit philanthropy in a different way. In a class taught by Dr. Peter Konwerski, students learn about the grant giving process, and local nonprofits reap the benefits.

The Human Services Program at GWU is an interdisciplinary major. “The goal of it is to produce future citizen leaders. This class is [the students’] senior capstone”. Konwerski says.

Ultimately, Konwerski says, the class ran a grant competition which ran about six weeks and collected 25 grants — the board group manages the selection of the grantees and also the allocation of the funding.

Through funding from the Learning by Giving Foundation, students allocated $10,000 in grant funding to local nonprofit organizations. The students set up their own foundation, sent out a request for proposals, created evaluation criteria and invited back eight of 25 applicants back for a final presentation to the class “board”.

On a Wednesday night at the University, representatives from all eight nonprofits invited back waited in the hallway to give an eight minute presentation to the class board.

Elizabeth Doherty from Keen DC, which provides recreational opportunities to people with developmental and physical disabilities, was the first presenter. She told the class about what makes KEEN, “different and unique” from other nonprofits.

Later on, Dan Hoagland from The Washington Area Bicyclist Association tried a different strategy — asking questions of the class.

“How many of you guys know how to ride a bicycle?,” Hoagland asked, at which point all the students raised their hand. “How many of you were taught by that person how to ride on city streets?” This time only three students raised their hands. “Nobody in this country is taught how to ride a bike on city streets as a child,” Hoagland said.

The Washington Area Bicycle Association wants to teach low-income, urban kids how to safely ride a bicycle in an urban environment.

Andrea Stark from Playworks asked the students to get up and play a game, called Roshambo Rockstar. It is basically a tournament of Rock Paper Scissors. The class board played the game for two minutes and afterward appeared re-energized and excited.

“Kids need that kind of break in their day too”, Stark said. That’s why she is working to bring more games to D.C. schools at recess.

After the presentations, the class board discussed the pros and cons of each organization. The class agreed to give funding to four of the eight finalists: Keen DC, Playworks, Common Good City Farm and Brainy Camps.

From this experience, college students gained nonprofit foundation experience, while the local organizations gained funding. For Konwerski this was exactly the goal.

“I think the nonprofits are taken a little aback when they actually see the professionalism of the students.” Konwerski said. “At the end of the day they’re running the most professional process possible to support nonprofits in the Washington area.”

The organizations which applied for the funding supported the teaching initiative as well. Elizabeth Doherty from Keen DC, said “I love that [teaching philanthropy] is becoming more prominent on college campuses and that more people are thinking about it and realizing: yes, they can be philanthropists but they also can have careers in the nonprofit sector.”

George Washington University and its neighbor Georgetown are among three dozen colleges and universities across the country offering these sorts of philanthropy classes. And the Learning by Giving Foundation offers an online version, open to anyone in interested in learning how to give.

GWellness Foundation Grant Winners:

GWellness Foundation Grant Finalists

Music: “Philanthropy Intermission” by Audible Lab Rats from Project Philanthropy

(from: http://wamu.org/programs/metro_connection/14/05/22/can_you_teach_college_students_to_be_charitable)

An audio Profile of Foggy Bottom, D.C

(Here is a story I did for WAMU 88.5, a Washington D.C., NPR Member Station. The radio version of the story is here at 1:30)

A view of Foggy Bottom from the Washington Monument (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

A view of Foggy Bottom from the Washington Monument (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

By: Tyler Daniels

February 28, 2014

Dixie Woodard moved to Foggy Bottom in 2000 after 21 years overseas.

“Being a retired professor, I found my neighbors to be retired professors as well. So it was a mixture of retired professors and students and some young professionals — young people,” she says.

She says Foggy Bottom — just about a block from the Watergate and a couple of blocks from the Kennedy Center — is a historic district with “beautiful trees.”

“People take pride in their yard and sit on their steps and in their yards. So you know people up and down all the blocks. If I really needed something, I’ve got people I could call anytime – night or day.”

Even though Foggy Bottom is in the heart of the city, Woodard says it has very little crime.

“Both the GW police and the D.C. Police patrol the streets all the time,” she says.

“After all these years of living here we are so lucky that we found this place. I love Foggy Bottom.”

Music: “No, Girl” by John Davis from Title Tracks

(from: http://wamu.org/programs/metro_connection/14/02/28/door_to_door_glenarden_md_and_foggy_bottom_dc)

Remembering Veteran Journalist Jack Germond – NBCNews.com

(Here is a story I did for the NBC’s Meet the Press blog, press pass. The NBC version of story here.)

By: Tyler Daniels

Publication Date: August 13, 2013

Jack Germond on Meet the Press (Photo Credit: NBC Press Pass Blog)

Jack Germond on Meet the Press (Photo Credit: NBC Press Pass Blog)

Jack Germond, a longtime political reporter for the Baltimore Sun, died this morning at age 85. During his 50 year journalism career Germond gained notability through his political columns, campaign books, memoirs and regular appearances on Sunday talk shows like Meet the Press. Germond’s career started at the Monroe, Michigan Evening News and he served as a reporter for the Rochester Times-Union. He was later a Washington Bureau Chief for Gannett Newspapers and finally became a reporter and eventual columnist at the Baltimore Sun. Over the years Germond gained a reputation as a candid and cynical columnist as well as a legendary political horse race handicapper.

Germond made 39 appearances on Meet the Press.

He was a regular commentator for Spivak as well as for MTP moderators Bill Monroe and Tim Russert. He appeared alongside notable guests such as Senator George McGovern, President George H.W. Bush , Governor Nelson Rockefeller , Senator Bob Dole, Senator Robert Byrd and Sargent Shriver. Germond made his last appearance on the program on July 11, 2004 with Tim Russert. Watch Germond’s entire appearance above during the 2000 campaign when he memorably said, “Why do we have to be theater critics?” when asked about Al Gore’s performance on television.