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De Blasio to sign off on country's largest municipal ID card program

With a few swipes of his pen on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will make New York the largest city to launch a municipal ID program.

municipal ID nyc immigration undocumented "This municipal ID embodies the true one New York we have always aspired to be," executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York Linda Sarsour said at Wednesday's hearing on municipal IDs before it goes for a mayoral signature.
Credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council

With a few swipes of his pen on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will make New York the largest city to launch a municipal ID program.

"You have a lot of people who don’t have that most basic form of ID across all demographics," de Blasio said at a hearing in City Hall on Wednesday.

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"And then, for those who are undocumented or for folks who have been in other ways left out in our society, the municipal ID card represents a ticket out of the shadows," he added.

The city already allocated $8 million to the program that lawmakers hope benefits an estimated 500,000 New york City residents without documentation.

"This municipal ID embodies the true one New York we have always aspired to be," executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York Linda Sarsour said at the hearing.

The de Blasio administration first committed to the idea of a city-based ID card during his mayoral campaign. From City Council chambers, he said the card will enable all New Yorkers to more easily sign a lease, open a bank account or get a library card.

The card will be recognized by the New York City Police Department as an official document, but cannot be used for international or domestic travel.

Applicants will have to prove both identity and residency. The former can be done with existing any U.S. government ID, as well as consular identification cards, EBT card, current visas, and either domestic or foreign birth certificates or driver licenses, among others.

The city plans to confirm residency with certain documents that show the person's name and residential address within city limits, including utility bills, employment stubs, current leases and more. The city may take more leeway in documentations for homeless New Yorkers.

Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that supports limits on immigration, said municipal IDs are vulnerable to fraud.

"Regardless of what you think of immigration policy, these programs end up being forced to rely on documentary standards that fall below generally accepted standards," she said.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

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