City Council moves forward on bill for municipal IDs

A proposed municipal ID program would target the 500,000 or so New York City residents living without residency or citizenship documentation who might require identification to access city services. Credit: Timothy Cleary/Getty Images
A proposed municipal ID program would target the 500,000 or so New York City residents living without residency or citizenship documentation who might require identification to access city services.
Credit: Timothy Cleary/Getty Images

The City Council is moving forward on a proposal to offer municipal identification cards to residents regardless of their immigration status.

The New York City Identity Card Program would be available for all New Yorkers, but targets the 500,000 or so residents living without residency or citizenship documentation who require ID to access city services.

Introduced into the Council on Thursday with the backing of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm, the card would serve as proof of residency for anybody who needs it to sign a lease, file complaints with the Police Department or open up a bank account.

The card wouldn’t function as a driver’s license for undocumented immigrants, a fight that continues in Albany. However, like any other form of government identification, the city ID would need to be designed in a way that deters fraud.

“New York City Identity Cards will provide New Yorkers with broader access to city services, foster better community relations and help bring stability to all city residents,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “This is a smart, humane policy that will help New Yorkers.”

A recent Sienna College Poll showed that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support the proposal, with 65 percent in favor while 30 percent opposed.

Among those supporters is Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called the initiative one of his administration’s top priorities during a speech in February. No New Yorkers should lack access to bank accounts, leases, library cards “simply because they lack identification,” he affirmed at the time.

“Having an official form of identification will bring dignity and peace of mind to many fellow residents currently living in the shadows,” de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday. “I look forward to reviewing this bill and to continuing conversations with the City Council to make this ID a reality.”

New York City would be far from alone in the movements toward universal ID cards. Ten jurisdictions currently offer them, including New Haven, Conn., which launched its own program in 2007, as did San Francisco. Los Angeles passed legislation to adopt a municipal ID card in 2012, but has not yet rolled it out.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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  1. The only people that this will benefit are those who are here illegally; the cards would be redundant for anyone else.
    In other states, municipal IDs were the first step to other things, like permits to drive.
    “New York City Identity Cards will provide New Yorkers with broader access to city services…” — which New Yorkers?
    If people are worried that new, legal arrivals to the city would need ID, make it a temporary thing. A permanent municipal ID would only be needed by someone who is not supposed to be here to begin with.
    I’m tired of hearing politicians say that we should bring the illegal aliens “out of the shadows” since that’s not really the case here — there are no shadows to bring them out of. When are politicians going to stop using such a trite, meaningless phrase.
    BTW, running a photo of an illegal alien holding a sign saying “Respeto” (Respect) is very ironic and insulting, considering those here illegally had no respect for US immigration laws.