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

Speaker touts municipal ID as a card for ‘everyone’

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito touted the benefits of an impending municipal identification bill, during an immigration panel at the annual National Action Network convention in Midtown today.

“Creating a municipal ID program will be the largest municipal ID program in the United States,” Mark-Viverito told the audience, to applause. “[It] will be available to all New York City residents regardless of their immigration status … it’s just the beginning.”

As first reported by Capital, the Council’s immigration committee, chaired by Councilman Carlos Menchaca, drafted the bill, which would require the city to create an “identity card program.” The cards would allow New Yorkers to access city services that require identification, and city agencies would be required to accept the card as a valid form of ID. The City Clerk’s office would handle the process.

“It’s not a driver’s license,” Mark-Viverito told reporters after the panel, adding that the benefits of the card would include “going into libraries, going into schools if parents want to go into schools and sign in and basically participate. It’s a basic ID card that as we continue to implement it, it also can grow in terms of what level of access it can provide.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for the bill today, in a statement that said the program would “bring dignity and peace of mind to many fellow residents currently living in the shadows.”

A similar piece of legislation was introduced by Councilman Danny Dromm last year, but the bill never made it out of committee for a vote. Mark-Viverito has called the bill a personal priority.

Advocates have raised concerns in the past about the risk undocumented New Yorkers could face if their personal information is tracked or stored, and eventually shared with federal immigration agencies.

Language in a draft copy of the bill, obtained by Capital, explicitly instructs the city not to store that information: “The city shall not retain originals or copies of records provided by an applicant to prove identity or residency for a New York City identity card,” it reads. “The city shall not disclose personal information obtained from applicant for a New York city ID card to any public or private entity … including federal, state, or city immigration or law enforcement.”

Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuente, told Capital today she was satisfied with the way the bill was drafted.

“The purpose of this is so that people have something official that says, ‘I’m a New Yorker, and I can use these kinds of facilities, walk down the street and be able to have a form of identification that says who I am,'” Gomez said. “This is not the undocumented card. This is the New York City municipal ID card. Any New Yorker can have it, not just undocumented or immigrant communities.”

Gomez told Capital that certain technical parts of the legislation, such as the penalties for applicants who provide fraudulent information, are still being hammered out. Those details are set to be discussed during through the hearing process.

Mark-Viverito today would not elaborate on whether the New York Police Department would accept the ID as valid form of identification, but sounded confident that all city agencies would be given a chance to weigh in, and would be willing to comply.

“That level of detail will come out, and we can have those conversations in the hearing process,” Mark-Viverito told Capital. “As we all know, legislation that is introduced, once it goes through its hearing process, there are changes and revisions that are sometimes made, so we want to hear from everyone–city agencies, we want to hear from the administration, we want to hear from a lay person who can tell us about the impact,” she said.

During the panel discussion, Mark-Viverito said there was an “extreme level of frustration” at the slow pace of national immigration reform.

“We’re seeing record numbers of deportations, what we’re starting to see is municipalities and states figuring out on their own, ‘what can we do to really address this issue,'” she said.

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