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Municipal IDs coming closer to reality

Cyril Josh Barker | 5/8/2014, 11:26 a.m.

The city is getting closer to making the concept of a municipal ID a reality as the first hearings for the plan get underway.

Last month, the City Council introduced legislation to create a citywide municipal identification card. The card is aimed toward undocumented immigrants in an effort to give them better access to city services.

Other than immigrants, the council says many current New York City residents are unable to obtain New York state photo identification cards for various reason. Not having an ID makes it difficult for New Yorkers to access basic public services.

Legislation introduced in April would create a citywide municipal identity card program. The New York City Identity Card Program would offer identification cards to anyone living in the five boroughs. City agencies would be required to accept these municipal identification cards in any situation where identification is needed to access public services.

“This landmark legislation to create the New York City Identity Card Program will go a long way toward helping New Yorkers access city services while also giving identification to those who have not had one before,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

In order to obtain a municipal ID card, New Yorkers would have to show proof of identification, including either a passport, birth certificate, utility bill or other documents. The process for application has not been finalized.

“We’re a city that believes in including everyone, and this legislation will ensure that New Yorkers don’t fall through the cracks,” Mark-Viverito said. “I’m very proud that the City Council is going to be considering this legislation, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to get this passed.”

At a hearing last week, Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), joined other NYIC members, allies and supporters to testify on the program.

Choi points out that the success of the “Key to the City” Initiative, which has helped more than 12,000 immigrants since 2011 receive consular identity documents and foreign passports through our collaboration with consulates including Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, is an example of the possibilities of a broader initiative such as municipal IDs to support all New Yorkers.

“The New York Immigration Coalition is proud to stand behind the municipal ID initiative, because a more inclusive New York is a better New York,” Choi said. “This inclusive identity card system will help overcome some of the barriers immigrant communities face in their daily lives and should facilitate access for all New Yorkers to leases, libraries, discounts, municipal services and more. We look forward to working with the mayor, City Council and our diverse Coalition members and allies to make it as useful as possible.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to show his support for the ID.

“I am extremely pleased that the City Council has acted swiftly to move forward a proposal to create a municipal ID card for all New Yorkers. Having an official form of identification will bring dignity and peace of mind to many fellow residents currently living in the shadows,” he said.