Some politicians were able to sign up for the city’s new municipal identification cards Thursday, breezing through the system as thousands waited in long lines just to make appointments.
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was joined in Brooklyn Thursday by members of the City Council, including Robert Cornegy, Jumaane D. Williams and Danny Dromm, to promote the new IDNYC cards.
They, along with some New Yorkers who testified on behalf of the cards last spring, breezed through their appointments at Brooklyn Central Library to get the cards, which will arrive in the mail.
Arrangements for the press conference, which included their appointments, were made weeks in advance, a staffer for Mark-Viverito said.
Elsewhere around the city, though, thousands waited on long lines just to make an appointment, which are now booked solid through the spring.
The city originally allowed New Yorkers to walk in to one of 17 enrollment centers around the five boroughs and get their IDs but switched to an appointment-only based system on Wednesday morning amid long lines.
The online system to make appointments went down soon after it was launched and those who called 311 were met with long wait times or dropped calls in some cases. There was also confusion about whether walk-ins would be able to get their IDs right away.
Since the program started, nearly 30,000 people have made appointments for the IDNYC cards, which are available to all New Yorkers 14 and up.
As of 3 p.m. Friday, the city booked more than 58,000 appointments, according to the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
They also processed nearly 6,000 applications.
“We always predicted there was going to be a large demand,” Mark-Viverito said at the event. “What we’re seeing is incredible demand.”
To meet that demand, the city plans to open two more centers in the next two weeks— one at the Family Center in Sunset Park, and the other at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
It’s not clear if additional centers will help move up appointments that have already been booked. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Near Dromm’s district, people waited outside Make the Road’s Roosevelt Avenue office for hours but will have to return in the spring in some cases to actually apply for the card. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Vicky Wang waited more than four hours to make an appointment on Thursday. She didn’t try to book it online, she said, and preferred to do it in person. She declined to say if she had another form of identification.
“It’s a long time, and I’m freezing,” she said.
But the card, when it arrives, will give her some freedom.
“It’s easy for going somewhere, and I’m excited,” she said.
Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said a program of this size is bound to have a few kinks to work out.
“In the first few days of any new program, bumps in the road are inevitable,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that the city will listen to feedback, implement necessary changes, and the program will only be made stronger.”
Councilman Robert Cornegy said he received his card to show it’s for all New Yorkers, and will continue to let his constituents know about it now that he’s been through the process.
“Having now gone through the application process myself, I can speak with constituents about it firsthand,” he said in a statement.
“And once my card arrives in the mail, I’ll be sharing about how I use it at institutions across the city. Despite the technical hiccups and need to adjust appointment capacity, I truly believe that ID NYC is a great program, off to a great start.”
The Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Nisha Agarwal, said New Yorkers should see an improvement over the next few days.
“We built a system that could expand and we’re prepared to deploy extra staff in the event of high demand,” she said.
Mark-Viverito said at Thursday’s press conference the demand for the card is a “good challenge to have.”
Her spokeswoman, when asked to comment about the disparity between politicians and New Yorkers getting cards on Friday, didn’t directly address the issue.
“The Speaker was honored to be joined by a diverse group of community members, whose moving testimony at April’s hearing on the bill touched the entire Council, as she signed up for her IDNYC card yesterday and encouraged all New Yorkers to do the same,” said spokeswoman Robin Levine.
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