New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is ready to issue photo identification cards to illegal immigrants.
The “IDNYC” cards, which among other benefits will also give illegal immigrants discounted theater tickets and one-year memberships to cultural institutions, will be available free of charge in January 2015. The de Blasio administration is also in the process of securing more benefits for cardholders.
De Blasio, who has said he is willing to “continue the conversation” on granting non-citizens voting rights in city elections, touted the enhanced security features of the new ID cards.
“A great deal of analysis and care went into ensuring our IDNYC card is strong on privacy and security, while providing access to as many people as possible,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We want New Yorkers to feel proud to carry this card in their wallet, but also to feel confident knowing that their information is safe and secure.”
De Blasio signed a law in July that established the program. Applicants for the IDNYC card must be at least 14 years of age and “will be required to present proof of identity and proof of residency in New York City.” The de Blasio administration will allow “over 40 categories of documents that may be used to establish identity, including foreign passports and consular identification cards, foreign birth certificates, military identification, U.S. high school diplomas, and U.S. voter registration cards” while “applicants will be able to demonstrate residency in New York City with cable, phone or utility bills, bank statements, and residential leases, among other documents.” Homeless New Yorkers will also be able to apply for an IDNYC card.
De Blasio’s office said the card “will connect New Yorkers in all five boroughs – regardless of immigration status, homeless status, or gender identity – to public and private sector services, including one-year free membership packages at 33 of the City’s leading cultural institutions.” Those benefits will reportedly include “free admission to major museums, complimentary rehearsal passes at performance halls, discounted theater tickets,” and the “the free membership packages will not be available to existing members of a participating institution, or to those people whose membership lapsed since January 2012.”
NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal said the de Blasio administration is “going to continue to develop the program, working with businesses and our community partners to make new benefits available to cardholders as the program grows.”