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Questions arise as to whether banks would accept new ID cards

Last month, the New York City Council passed a measure calling for the creation of municipal identification cards that could be issued to anyone able to present 1) proof of identity via a birth certificate or passport, and 2) proof of city residence via a pay stub, utility statement or other document.

According to the supporters of the measure, which is likely to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of its primary purposes is to give nearly 500,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York the chance to officially become part of the fabric of the city.

Specifically, these ID cards would provide undocumented immigrants with much-needed legal proof of residence, such that they could secure a library card, sign a lease and open a bank account.

Interestingly, there are some financial experts now wondering whether this last benefit would actually come to fruition.

The potential problem, say these experts, is that while the IDs will feature such pertinent information such as name, address and date of birth, they will not feature Social Security numbers, something that many banks have long required to open accounts.

For their part, city officials believe that these banks could accept what are known as Taxpayer Identification Numbers, a tax-processing identifier typically assigned to foreign workers, in place of a Social Security number, and that the collective pressure of the city government will more than likely help resolve the matter.

Experts, however, have indicated that it may not be that easy, as the issue of whether any bank could accept the ID cards will more than likely depend on both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the state Department of Finance granting their approval.

"There are a lot of banks that have flexibility above the minimum requirements to open an account, and below that minimum there's no flexibility," said the vice-president of one NYC-based bank that caters to underserved neighborhoods. "We try to be as open-minded as possible, as far as the regulators allow."

Here's hoping that this issue is resolved prior to the anticipated rollout of the cards in late 2014/early 2015, and that undocumented immigrants are not denied one of the potentially major benefits of their new identification.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about employment-based immigration, family immigration and other vital immigration law issues.

Source: Crain's New York Business, "Municipal ID cards could boost immigrant business," Chris Bragg, July 8, 2014

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