City, State Officials Push for ID for Undocumented

El Diario-La Prensa reports in two separate articles translated below on efforts at the state and municipal levels to issue IDs for undocumented immigrants. 

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio introduced a proposal that would issue a city ID for undocumented immigrants. (Photo by Latima Stephens/CUNY Photo Wire)

Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio introduced a municipal reform package on May 15 that includes offering a city identification to undocumented residents.

“Nearly half a million people living among us can’t reasonably obtain ID,” said de Blasio.

According to de Blasio, a universal city ID would help undocumented immigrants integrate into society. It would allow them to open bank accounts, use public library services, and file a complaint with police without fear.

De Blasio mentioned that the city of New Haven, Conn., has had positive results after granting ID to undocumented residents.

In Fair Haven, a majority immigrant neighborhood, these IDs were issued. Afterward, studies found that crime in the neighborhood dropped by 20 percent because there was new cooperation between the police and the immigrants,” he added.

New Haven was the first city in the country to issue ID for undocumented immigrants in 2007. Various cities followed suit, including San Francisco, and Trenton and Princeton in New Jersey.

“The national dynamic is moving, but we have no illusions that it will move fast enough. It’s time for local jurisdictions to take a step forward,” said de Blasio, explaining his motives for presenting the bill now.

Pro-immigrant leaders in the city say this is the right time to put these bills into action at the local level. According to Lucia Gómez of the nonprofit La Fuente, many leaders had not pushed for measures at the local level not to undermine the chances of a federal reform.

“We didn’t want to rile up the masses so as not to create a negative atmosphere for reform,” she said, adding that she hopes the New York measures will move forward and not become merely symbolic.

The New York bill is one of five sponsored by de Blasio as part of a reform package entitled, “Safe, Open City.” Part of de Blasio’s job as public advocate is to introduce bills before the City Council and make recommendations to government entities in order to improve their services.

The bill is still being developed, but it is expected that it will at least be shown to the City Council before the fiscal year ends in June.

Albany Lawmakers Revive Driver’s License Proposal

Politicians at the state level are striving to revive a proposal that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and ID cards from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Sen. Adriano Espaillat wants to bring back a Gov. Spitzer era bill that would let undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses. (Photo by CUNY Dominican Studies Institute/Flickr Creative Commons License)

Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa is the bill’s main sponsor. She is collaborating with state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who will push it forward in the New York State Senate.

Rosa did not want to comment on the details of the bill because it is still in its initial stages. Nevertheless, she said that one of the key requirements to obtaining an ID “will be that the applicant doesn’t have a criminal record.”

The bill was first championed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 as a necessary measure to improving public safety by allowing thousands of people without driver’s licenses to obtain insurance. However, Spitzer stopped advocating for the bill after receiving overwhelming public opposition. Opponents contended that granting a government ID to undocumented immigrants could lead to electoral fraud and terrorism.

Espaillat said that presenting the bill only six weeks before the end of the state’s legislative session calendar could end up being beneficial.

“Ninety percent of legislation gets passed during the last three weeks,” he said, and stressed that politicians should take advantage of the current pro-immigrant atmosphere. “In an environment like the one we have now, it would be a shame for New York State to do nothing.”


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