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Know Your Rights
Source: Times Ledger
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Several elected officials remind residents of the benefits of municipal ID cards

Three elected officials enrolled in the city’s municipal ID program last Friday, hoping it would encourage their constituents to take advantage of the benefits the IDNYC card offers. The free card provides identification for residents, including undocumented immigrants and others who have trouble getting government-issued identification such as the homeless and the formerly incarcerated, as well as providing a range of other benefits to cardholders.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and his staff were joined by state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Corona Center where they enrolled, joining 400,000 New Yorkers who already have municipal identification.

“IDNYC unites New Yorkers under one banner,” Peralta said. “The card allows New Yorkers to come out of the shadows, especially undocumented immigrants who could not even open up a bank account previously.”

When the cards were introduced in January, there were only three locations in the borough where they were issued and people had to wait on lines for hours to get them. Now there are eight locations in Queens, and 29 citywide. Other locations include the Queens Library Flushing and Jamaica branches, LaGuardia Community College and Make the Road New York’s Jackson Heights headquarters.

“Having photo identification will help parents enter schools, young people get library books, and provide countless discounts to all of the great things New York City has to offer,” Moya said. “I encourage all New Yorkers, citizens and undocumented immigrants alike, to sign up.”

IDNYC benefits include a free one-year membership at many of the city’s leading museums, zoos, concert halls and botanical gardens. It also includes a 5 percent discount on all purchases at Food Bazaar supermarkets made from 7 a.m. to &7 p.m. on weekdays, as well as a 20 percent discount on family memberships at all YMCA centers.

“I’m looking forward to using my IDNYC card to explore museums and shows with my daughter,” Simotas said. “IDNYC opens doors to all our city has to offer, from the arts to vital municipal services.”

More than 30,000 free memberships at 33 cultural institutions have been activated since January. In that time, IDNYC had become the largest community ID program in the country.

In addition, 50,000 cardholders have also chosen to participate in the New York State organ donor program when applying for the card. Peralta sponsored a bill that is pending in the state Senate that would make it easier for New Yorkers to sign up for the Donate Life Registry after only 11 percent of eligible Queens residents registered as organ donors.

Nisha Agarwal, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, was “thrilled” that Peralta, Simotas and Moya enrolled in the IDNYC program.

“Queens is a bastion of diversity, culture, and inclusion that the IDNYC program celebrates, and its residents have responded remarkably, with over 6 percent of the population already enrolling,” she said. “IDNYC truly creates and opens doors for New Yorkers to government, culture, health and so much more.”

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