A day after Mayor de Blasio announced the city would issue municipal ID cards to immigrants who don’t have legal status, advocates praised the move.
Even though those immigrants already have access to many services in New York City, advocates said the development was meaningful.
Back in 2007, New Haven, Conn., became the first city to issue municipal ID cards to immigrants who didn’t have legal status. Latrina Kelly-James, the deputy director at an immigrant advocacy group Junta for Progressive Action, said the benefits have been huge.
“We were able to really bring immigrants out of the shadows, help them open bank accounts, help them report crimes and become more at ease in building community and police relations,” she said.
In New York City, the impact of the card may not be as dramatic. Already, city police can’t inquire about immigration status, and many financial institutions as well as other organizations have flexible identification requirements, accepting foreign passports and consular IDs.
But Daniel Coates, a lead organizer with Make the Road New York, said problems still occasionally arise when immigrants enter local government buildings or interact with the police. “Having something that’s explicitly valid for New York City will go a really long way in strengthening that relationship and making these communities integrate better into the city,” he said.