New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio displays his new municipal ID card.  (Screengrab: Youtube)

New York City has launched its municipal identification card program, the largest in the country, which will allow immigrants living in the country illegally to access key city services they were previously unable to obtain, according to the Associated Press.

The card, dubbed IDNYC, was approved last year and became available to New Yorkers Monday.

It is aimed at those who do not currently have an ID, including the elderly, homeless and an estimated 500,000 immigrants in the city who live in the U.S. without legal documentation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who worked closely with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to create the program, long a liberal goal, called the card “a gateway to city services.”

“It is the key to opening a bank account or getting a library card, and the ticket to many of our city’s finest cultural institutions,” said the mayor, a Democrat.

“More than that, this card represents who we are: New Yorkers who value equality, opportunity and diversity.”

Advocates believe having the photo-embedded cards may make immigrants otherwise lacking documentation feel more comfortable seeking help from law enforcement.

They said the cards also may help the elderly, the homeless and members of the transgender community who don’t have easy access or funds to get state IDs to participate in other aspects of civic life.

“This is a day that we have been waiting for; it speaks to folding everyone into the fabric that is this city,” Mark-Viverito said as she stood alongside the mayor at a Queens news conference.

“It’s more than an ID card, it’s an affirmation. You are a New Yorker.”


A sample version of the city’s new municipal identification card.

All New Yorkers age 14 and older are eligible, as long as they can prove their identity and city residence.

Bernardo Garcia, 40, said he had waited in line for more than an hour Monday at a Bronx library to apply for his municipal ID.

Garcia, a Bronx resident who has a quality control job at a Brooklyn factory, said the ID could come in handy “for jobs, banking, insurance, for everything.”

“Thank you for the opportunity!” said Garcia, a native of Colombia who has lived in New York about 15 years.

“Everybody needs ID. This is New York: a great city. A great opportunity.”

To prevent any possible stigma that the ID is only carried by immigrants who are in the country illegally, the city has created an incentive program to entice all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, to get a card.

Cardholders will be eligible for free memberships at many of the city’s signature cultural institutions as well as other discounts.

The card is currently free to obtain, though a fee may be applied in the future, city officials said.

The mayor announced the full suite of IDNYC benefits, including:

-- Exclusive entertainment discounts on movie tickets, Broadway shows, sporting events, theme parks, and more with Entertainment Benefits Group.

-- A 10 percent discount off annual NYC Parks Recreation Center membership for adults age 25-61 and NYC Parks Department tennis permits.

-- A 20 percent discount on family memberships at all 22 YMCA centers citywide.

-- A free 30-day trial and fitness evaluation with a certified trainer at all New York Sports Club locations.

-- A 5 percent discount off all purchases at Food Bazaar supermarkets in New York City Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

-- A 25 percent discount on New York Pass, a citywide pass to 83 tourist attractions in all five boroughs.

-- Free one-year membership packages at 33 of the city’s leading cultural institutions, including world class museums, performing arts centers, concert halls, botanical gardens, and zoos across the five boroughs.

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