The City Council on Thursday approved a measure to start issuing municipal identification cards, which supporters say will make life easier for undocumented immigrants and the homeless who seek out city services. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Open your wallet, and you may have a state-issued ID. But that’s not the case for all of the city’s residents, like the undocumented.
“If you ask if I have ID, I don’t have one. That is why I want one,” said one New York City resident.
So following the lead of San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut, the City Council approved legislation to create a municipal ID card program on Thursday.
“The message is that the city belongs to everyone, regardless of who you are,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Supporters say the ID will allow immigrants in the country illegally to get a lease, a library card or maybe a bank account.
“The New York City ID for all is poised to become the must-have accessory for all New Yorkers,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.
At least for now, institutions will not be forced to accept it.
“We are going to engage in conversations, as other municipalities have done, and try to get banks to accept this as a formal form of ID so that people can open up bank accounts,” Mark-Viverito said.
The program was a major priority for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council speaker.
It was approved overwhelmingly by the Council, championed as another progressive policy of the new City Hall, even though the details of the program are still being worked out, like even what agency will administer the program.
To get a New York City ID, you will have to show proof of residency, like a utility bill, as well as proof of identity, like a foreign passport. Those records will be retained by the city for two years.
“If this card does not gain widespread voluntary acceptance, I fear that it will serve the opposite purpose of what is intended, namely, that it will, in fact, simply identify the undocumented for the government,” said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick of Manhattan.
Others raised questions about security and how the city could prevent fraud.
“I believe there are legitimate security concerns that have not been adequately addressed in it,” said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio of Staten Island.
Despite this caution, supporters are hoping to get the program off the ground by next year.