At least 34 City Council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, are already signed on as co-sponsors to a bill that would most immediately offer the 500,000 immigrants living in New York City without documentation a form of identification. Credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council
The New York City Council stands ready to approve the country's largest municipal identification card program on Thursday.
At least 34 members are already signed on as co-sponsors to a bill that would most immediately offer the 500,000 immigrants living in New York City without documentation a form of identification.
The bill already has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration has spent the last few months organizing a network of partners and locations that can roll the program out before 2015.
About $8 million has already been allocated in the city's latest budget towards municipal IDs.
Critics of similar programs argue that the promised benefits — such as access to banks and various city services — haven't always added up.
Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that supports limits on immigration, said many large banks in cities that have previously approved similar programs have been unable to accept locally sanctioned cards as proper identification to open accounts.
"With the municipal IDs, at least for day to day things, they just haven't lived up to their promise," Vaughn said.
San Francisco, Oakland, and New Haven, Connecticut have existing city ID cards. Los Angeles approved its own program in 2012 but has yet to roll it out.
After the Council's vote, the bill is expected to move to de Blasio's desk for a signature within the month.
"To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say: New York City is your home too," de Blasio said at his first State of the City address in February, "and we will not force any of our residents to live their lives in the shadows."