New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to issue municipal ID cards with the aim of helping undocumented immigrants function in society has political punch. It comes seven years after ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s failed bid to do the same with state drivers’ licenses -- and amid renewed talk of reforming federal immigration laws.
The city’s Human Resources Administration, in charge of public assistance, would manage the cards’ distribution for a processing fee, according to mayoral spokeswoman Maibe Ponet. Other cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., as well as New Haven, Conn. do this.
For New York, however, crucial details have yet to be settled.
De Blasio’s new budget proposal sets an initial cost at $430,000 for staffing and planning. No estimate was available for administrative costs and fee revenue once it all begins. Proof of identity and local residency would be required to get the cards, which could then serve as ID to file police reports, open bank accounts, sign leases and enter city buildings.
City officials caution that the optional card would not be a license to drive, and “won’t be valid to purchase alcohol or tobacco, and is not intended to be accepted by federal agencies for federal identification or other official purposes.”
De Blasio still must appoint an HRA commissioner. Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli is planning the program, Ponet said. It is also too early to predict if neighboring locales will recognize the ID cards. Brian Nevin, spokesman for the Nassau County executive, said: “It is impossible to comment without having reviewed the city regulations and its application.”