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New York creates largest municipal ID system in US

July 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s mayor on Thursday signed into law a plan to offer identification cards to residents regardless of their immigration status, providing a valuable document to access certain services.

With its passage, the city is creating what will be the country’s largest municipal identification card system.

“We cannot accept a city where some of our residents are forced to live fearfully in the shadows,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He said the new card would finally provide a sense of “inclusion” for many who live in the city.

The card, called the New York City Identity Card, will be available to anyone who can prove their identity and residency in the nation’s largest city.

It is particularly aimed at groups that are currently unable to show a form of government identification required to do things such as cashing a check, signing a lease or even entering office buildings for job interviews or public schools for parent-teacher conferences.

The city is negotiating with banks to let the card be an acceptable form of identification to open accounts.

Champions of the card say it will be of help to the elderly, the homeless and transgender people, though the estimated 500,000 immigrants who live in the city illegally are poised to be the biggest beneficiaries.

The card is expected to become available in January.

The New York Civil Liberties Union initially backed the card but withdrew its support over concerns that law enforcement would use the cards to gather information needed to deport immigrants who are in the country illegally. City officials downplayed that concern, saying the personal information would only be stored for two years and would only be accessible by court order.

The card will initially be free, though officials said the city could charge a small fee for it after the first year. Documents that will be acceptable to obtain a photo-embedded card include a form of identification such as a foreign driver’s license or a birth certificate and proof of residence, such as a utility bill or bank statement.

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