Muni ID Plans Receive Public Comment

Mayor de Blasio announces cultural benefits to municipal ID at the Bronx Zoo (Photo from mayor's office via nyc.gov)

Mayor de Blasio announces cultural benefits to the municipal ID at the Bronx Zoo. (Photo from mayor’s office via nyc.gov)

The city is soliciting comments on the proposed municipal ID program set for rollout in January, Samar Khurshid writes in Gotham Gazette. A public hearing was scheduled for Oct. 8 by the Human Resources Administration, the agency responsible for implementation of the program, and the HRA has set up an online portal for public comments to be posted. A few residents of the city are already expressing reservations.

These concerns are echoed through the comments expressed on the HRA website. In fact, the latter issue was raised by Council Member Dan Garodnick when the bill was being voted on in June. “If this card does not gain widespread voluntary acceptance, I fear that it will serve the opposite purpose than what is intended, namely that it will, in fact, simply identify the undocumented for the government,” he said at the Stated Meeting of the Council on June 26.

A social worker, Rhonda Ryan, wrote on HRA’s website, “Everyone deserves to be able to carry a document that says who they are. My concern however, is getting illegal persons to trust the process and to sign up for the card. They are very worried about getting caught in the country illegally, therefore I think there will need to be major training and sensitivity around this issue in order to get the most vulnerable population the card they deserve.”

City Council member Daniel Dromm, who supports the muni ID, said that the key is getting a cross-section of New Yorkers, not just undocumented residents, to sign up for the card. The city has already lined up several cultural institutions willing to offer free access and membership as benefits attached to the card.

“When we have a lot of people thrown into the mix, there is virtually no chance of telling who is undocumented and who is not. And we will not be asking people if they’re documented or not.”

To add to the benefits of the card, Dromm said the Council has reached out to businesses and financial institutions, such as Mastercard, to accept the card as a form of identification, and that these companies have shown a lot of interest. This would be a breakthrough in providing homeless New Yorkers and undocumented immigrants with much-needed access to bank accounts and financial services.

Find out about privacy concerns around the muni ID and what current plans are for record keeping at Gotham Gazette.

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