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Know Your Rights
Source: The New York Observer
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Municipal ID Bill Moves Closer to Reality

A plan backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to provide municipal ID cards to all New York City residents is getting one step closer to reality.

Councilmen Daniel Dromm and Carlos Menchaca plan to introduce a bill tomorrow aimed at providing official identification for all New Yorkers–regardless of citizenship–with a focus on immigrant and LGBT communities, and residents without drivers licenses.

“It’s a fact of life that you can’t get into 250 [Broadway] to meet a council member unless you have identification,” Mr. Dromm said at a press conference on the steps of City Hall this afternoon. “You can’t pick up your child from a public school unless you have identification.”

These restrictions, they argued, place a significant burden on city residents who lack ID, including people in the country illegally, homeless residents and those who never learned to drive.

“I understand what it is not to have an ID,” said Juan Carlos, an immigrant and a supporter of the bill, who was in attendance at today’s event. “This ID would allow me to come out of the shadows more, to lose my fear in front of and dealing with the police, and to really be able to feel like a citizen and a resident of New York.”

Mr. Menchaca emphasized that the IDs would available to all residents, not just to those who currently lack official identification. “We’re hoping we can attach many benefits to this,” Mr. Menchaca said, alluding to potential discounts at city-funded events and attractions, which the mayor first touted in his State of the City speech.

Messrs. Dromm and Menchaca said they anticipate widespread support for the bill, and hope to see it enacted by the end of the year, or early January. “Council members have been asking me, ‘When are you finally going to introduce that piece of legislation?’” Mr. Dromm told the Observer after the press conference. “I think we’ll have an overwhelming majority of council members who will be supporting us.”

The bill, however, had some staunch detractors, including Republican State Senator Greg Ball, who has slammed the IDs as dangerous tools that could be used by terrorists.

Though Mr. Dromm stated that he “[hadn’t] heard any opposition to the bill at all,” he and Mr. Ball publicly clashed over municipal IDs this February in a joint appearance on ABC’s Up Close, where Mr. Ball claimed the IDs would help terrorists evade police and accused Mr. Dromm of being “in la la land,” and Mr. Dromm called Mr. Ball “a bum”.

In a statement this morning, Mr. de Blasio reaffirmed his support for the effort, and said he looked forward to reviewing the specifics of the legislation.

“I am extremely pleased that the City Council has acted swiftly to move forward a proposal to create a municipal ID card for all New Yorkers. Having an official form of identification will bring dignity and peace of mind to many fellow residents currently living in the shadows,” he said. “I look forward to reviewing this bill and to continuing conversations with the City Council to make this ID a reality.”

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