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Mayor's call for ID cards includes all undocumented immigrants

Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made headlines across the state and around the nation last month after making several bold proclamations during his first State of the City address. In particular, much attention has been devoted to de Blasio's promise concerning so-called municipal identification cards.

During the speech, de Blasio announced that he would be pursuing the implementation of a plan to issue municipal identification cards to all residents, including the roughly 500,000 undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the city.

"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," he said.

According to de Blasio, these municipal ID cards would grant undocumented immigrants the long-overdue ability to perform such essential activities as opening a bank account, signing a lease, securing a library card, entering a school and even filing a police report.

Not surprisingly, the proposal has been widely embraced by both local lawmakers and immigrant advocacy groups.

Indeed, city councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), who serves as head of the Immigration Committee, has already announced that committee members are hard at working on the creation of municipal ID bill and that hearings to discuss the measure could be held sometime this month.

For their part, immigrant advocacy groups are enthused by the proposal, arguing that the issuance of municipal ID cards regardless of immigration status sends a clear message to Congress that the people want immigration reform and are willing to act unilaterally to get it.

However, it should be noted that groups like the New York City Immigration Coalition want to make sure that any issuance of municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants is accompanied by reassurance from city agencies that they will not only be accepted, but that they will not be used as a tool to unfairly stigmatize.

What are your thoughts on de Blasio's plan? Is it past time for those lacking U.S. citizenship to be issued some form of universal identification?

Source: CBS New York, "Immigration advocates applaud Mayor Bill De Blasio's ID card plan," Feb. 11, 2014;, "De Blasio proposes municipal ID card regardless of immigration status," Arlene Borenstein, Feb. 10, 2014

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