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Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (center) and Councilmen Daniel Dromm (right) and Carlos Menchaca discuss the program that will grant municipal ID to every New Yorker, including the undocumented, on June 26.  (Susan Watts/New York Daily News)


The New York City Council has approved the creation of the nation’s largest municipal identification card program to include illegal immigrants.

It is expected to be rolled out later this year or early 2015.

Passed on June 26 in a 43-3 vote with two abstentions, the plan will allow some 500,000 illegal immigrants in the city to obtain legal identification and open bank accounts, get driver’s license, sign apartment leases and access other services where a photo ID is required.

Supporters of the bill, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the ID cards will reduce obstacles for senior citizens, homeless, transgender and illegal immigrants.

“Every New Yorker deserves an official identification that allows them to prove who they are and access core services,” de Blasio said in a statement after the vote.

“The municipal ID is more than just a card — it provides New Yorkers who are currently living in the shadows with dignity and peace of mind,” de Blasio said.

The legislation puts New York on a list of other U.S. cities with large immigrant populations — Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Haven, Connecticut — that have instituted municipal ID programs.

The card will include the holder’s photo, name, date of birth and address.

It will also have an expiration date.

Applicants can obtain a card using a foreign birth certificate, driver’s license or proof of residence such as a utility bill.

There will also be an option to include self-designated gender.

“It is sound policy, and it is humane policy,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“Plain and simple, this is an ID for everyone,” she said.

“We don’t accept that some people will simply be left out because of their immigration status, how they identify their gender, or whether they may be homeless.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reportedly expressed reservations about how the program will be secure enough to limit fraud and misuse, though the New York Police Department (NYPD) supports the general concept that will embolden the undocumented to report crime without fear of deportation.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca said the City Council staffs have had productive conversations with the NYPD to address the commissioner’s concerns.

“The NYPD was at the table the entire time,” he said.

“There is a real commitment here.”

To obtain an ID, an applicant will have to prove their identity with documents like a birth certificate or passport from any country, and prove they live in New York through utility bills and pay stubs.

The cards will be accepted by city agencies from residents seeking services, let parents enter school buildings, and give people an ID to present to police if they are stopped, which sometimes spells the difference between spending a night in jail and being released.

The card holder will even receive discounts at cultural and recreational institutions like museums.

Voting against the measure were the three Republican members of the City Council, who said its $8.4 million price tag (and $5.6 million each subsequent year) might be better spent on other priorities, including the hiring of firefighters and police officers.

Councilman Alan Maisel (D-Brooklyn), who abstained, expressed “a serious concern” that the cards could be used by a future anti-immigrant federal administration as a database to mount a crackdown on the undocumented.

“We are basically presenting and preparing a list of undocumented workers,” he said.

“I don’t think people should be placing themselves in the position where they can be identified when they are not here legally.”

Officials have not yet established details of the plan and exact fraud prevention features, how much the IDs will cost or the minimum age requirement to obtain them.

The ID card vote comes amid a national debate over how to address the millions of undocumented living in the United States, and a surge in unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, who have been trying to cross the U.S. border.

The City Council also earmarked nearly $5 million of the city budget to expand a pilot program that provides free legal representation for detained immigrants facing deportation.

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