Municipal IDs seen to benefit all New Yorkers not just undocumented immigrants

Mayor Bill de Blasio: ‘It’s about normalizing and improving people’s lives’

Mayor Bill de Blasio: ‘It’s about normalizing and improving people’s lives’

By Cristina Dc Pastor

Certain things will change when one enters a New York City building beginning 2015.

Instead of showing the building security a driver’s license or a passport, a New York resident can show a municipal identity card. The ID card will be available in January to all New York residents not limited to the city’s half a million undocumented immigrants. That way, flashing a card will not stigmatize the owner or brand him as having an illegal status.

The ID card will not only make it easier for an out-of-status immigrant to open a bank account or lease an apartment, it will become available to certain vulnerable populations that are struggling to access state IDs, such as homeless New Yorkers, people coming out of incarceration, young people in foster care, and the transgender community. For the first time, according to officials, transgender people will be able to choose their gender marker on their city IDs.

It’s all about “normalizing and improving people’s lives,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a July press conference.

Right now, the city is trying to make the card appealing by attaching perks to it, like discounts at stores, restaurants, and cultural shows, Deputy Press Secretary Maibe Ponet told The FilAm. While the card will be available to all residents of the five boroughs, it is not mandatory.

Ponet stressed that immigrants applying for cards will not be asked about their legal status.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “City agencies are prohibited from inquiring about immigration status, and the Municipal ID program strictly respects that guideline.”

The city makes clear that all agencies, including the NYPD, will recognize and respect the card.

Said De Blasio: “We want all New Yorkers, including those who are undocumented, to feel very, very comfortable working with the police. We want them to be very able to identify themselves to the police, and to do it in an atmosphere of safety.”

Enrolment sites will be set up in January in “trusted institutions,” such as community centers and public libraries to sign people up. Mobile and online applications will also be honored. The card will be free for the first year, said the mayor.

De Blasio addressed questions about confidentiality and privacy. There will be standard safeguards, such as not sharing information with third parties. In addition, all application data will be destroyed not later than two years so there would be no record of personal information archived in some database around City Hall.

It makes a lot of sense for a New Yorker to have an ID card. Many of them do not drive and are not required to have a driver’s license. This ID card becomes a primary form of identification. For these people, said De Blasio, living in New York City has been a “different reality.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: