New York City Council on Thursday approved the creation of municipal ID cards that will allow undocumented immigrants to use city services and perform other critical rites such as opening a bank account, signing a lease and cashing a check that previously were inaccessible because of the lack of documentation.
The card will be available to all New Yorkers who can prove their identity and residence in the city’s five boroughs. It is estimated that some 500,000 immigrants could be eligible for the new cards. Though New York will be the largest municipal ID program in the nation, it comes after ID issuances in smaller cities including New Haven, Trenton, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington D.C. and Dayton. Advocates for immigrant rights continue to push for the cards in other cities with immigrant populations.
“This municipal ID card will provide a safe and secure identification to all New Yorkers, many of whom have never had them before,” Democratic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters in a public statement. “For too long, many New Yorkers lacked ID for a variety of reasons, but this smart, humane legislation will begin to change that and help many New Yorkers gain access to important city services that were previously out of reach.”
Ariella Cohen is Next City’s editor-in-chief.