Mayor Bill de Blasio committed again to introducing universal municipal IDs for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status. Credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to give all New Yorkers access to a universal ID card, regardless of immigration status before the year's end.
"To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say: New York City is your home too, and we will not force any of our residents to live their lives in the shadows," de Blasio said at Monday's State of the City address.
The mayor first committed to the idea during his campaign to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who despite being a vocal advocate of immigrant communities never fully backed the proposal.
Supporters of the policy argue that a universal ID card benefits not only the residents who previously lacked access to certain services but improves relationships between city agencies and the immigrant community.
While the particulars of a universal New York City ID cards still need to be hammered out, immigrants previously lacking proper identification would gain access certain services mundane to New York City residents with government approved ID.
The new ID card could enable formerly unregistered residents to open bank accounts and sign leases, as well as apply for social services including public housing programs.
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 pass legislation to adopt a municipal ID card in 2012.
Whichever form the New York City universal ID card takes place, it would not double as a driver's license — which are issued by New York State and are under Albany's purview.
State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Jose Peralta issued joint statement praising de Blasio's move as a first, albeit small, step towards granting all immigrants fuller access to city services.
"By the same token, it is unacceptable that hardworking immigrants are made to break the law in order to commute to work or take their kids to school," the lawmakers wrote.
But the small step will do for some advocates, at least for now.
New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Steve Choi said the group anticipates working with City Hall and community partners to make the ID cards as useful as possible.
"The Mayor's announcement of municipal IDs for all New Yorkers is an important step for our communities," Choi wrote, "helping overcome some of the barriers immigrant communities face in the course of their daily life and facilitating access for all New Yorkers to leases, libraries, municipal services and hospitals."