Civil rights group marks MLK Day with call for 'Trump card' national ID

A prominent civil rights group is marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by pressing President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE to honor his promise to create a national photo ID card for citizens.

Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the iconic civil rights leader and a co-chairmen of the Drum Major Institute, met with Trump two years ago on MLK Day. During that meeting, the then-president-elect endorsed the idea of a national photo ID. This year, the group is calling on Trump to follow through.

William Wachtel, co-founder of the Drum Major Institute, said the group sees the issue as critical to ensuring King's work to remove barriers to voting.

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“We want to make sure that no voter is left behind because of the inability to get a photo ID,” Wachtel told The Hill. “Most people spend their time fighting over who’s trying to keep people from not voting as opposed to finding solutions to make it possible for everyone to vote. That’s why Dr. King fought so hard for the Voting Rights Act.”

As of 2018, 17 states, require a photo ID from their citizens to vote.

The group is asking Trump to issue an executive order instructing the Social Security Administration to create a Social Security card with a photo, a so-called Trump card. Supporters say such an ID would increase civic participation, prevent fraud and help the disadvantaged find resources.

The idea has invited controversy in the past, in particular over privacy concerns. In 2013, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.) introduced a measure, the Protect Our Privacy Act, attached to a Senate immigration bill. The Paul amendment sought to prevent the creation of a national ID card, citing worries that it would make it easier for the government to track people.

Wachtel sought to ease concerns about such an ID, saying it would not be mandatory and would only be an option for those who sought it.

“A lot of people are against a national photo ID,” said Wachtel. “[Our proposal] is nothing more than affording every citizen, who already has a Social Security card, the option of having the photo put on the card so they can vote and get on airplanes and the like.”

Trump has repeatedly argued that all voters should have to present photo ID before casting their ballots.

To press him on the issue, the Drum Major Institute is writing Trump and running a new ad.

The letter from the group's national minister, the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., reminds Trump of the 2017 meeting.

"[W]e discussed the possibility of implementing the 'Trump Card' as a part of your presidential efforts to strengthen the opportunities for civic participation, particularly for disadvantaged members of our society. You immediately recognized the 'Trump Card' as a 'great idea' and said, 'why don’t we do this?' " Forbes writes to the president in a letter dated Monday.

"I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor what would have been Dr. King’s 90th birthday than you signing an Executive Order directing the Social Security Administration to make it possible for all citizens, who so desire, to have their photos added to their Social Security cards, free of charge," Forbes adds. "As a president who says: 'I always keep my promises,' we hope you will keep this one."

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for a comment on the national ID card proposal.

Wachtel expressed frustration that the issue, which has had support from members of both parties in the past, still has not been achieved. But he expressed hope that Trump would act.

“We know that this [issue] is still something he has got in his head,” he said.

“This is a national solution,” Wachtel added. “This is absolutely the greatest birthday present you could give to Dr. King, celebrating what would be his 90th birthday.”

Updated at 7 a.m.