But City Council moving forward on Menchaca bill
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The City Council is moving forward with a history-making bill co-sponsored by Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) that would create the largest municipal ID card program in the nation after hearings took place on April 30.
But the Brooklyn Conservative Party is voicing strong objections to the plan to allow all New Yorkers, even undocumented immigrants, to obtain identification cards that they could use to open bank accounts, enter public buildings and access city services. The Conservatives argued that the cards are “unnecessary” and could lead to a future scenario in which non-citizens are permitted to vote in municipal elections.
Menchaca and the bill’s supporters said the goal of the legislation is to give New Yorkers who might otherwise have difficulty getting a photo ID through usual means the opportunity to obtain cards. Menchaca, a freshman councilman, is chairman of the Committee on Immigration.
Under the bill, co-sponsored by Menchaca and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights-Elmhurst), applicants would be able to use a US or foreign passport, a US or foreign birth certificate, a driver's license or other kinds of documentation to help establish residency in order to obtain the municipal ID and obtain the city ID.
The city’s municipal ID would be accepted as any other form of government ID is accepted in public places, council members said.
It would be the first program of its kind in the city’s history.
“Government identification is a gateway to critical services – from opening a bank account to accessing healthcare to entering government buildings, like public schools. With our partners in the advocacy community and the mayor’s office, the City Council will help to ensure that we launch the largest and most successful identification card program of its kind,” Menchaca said when the bill was introduced in early April.
The Brooklyn Conservative Party issued a statement on April 30 condemning bill. “These cards are unnecessary for most as the documentation to get them are enough proof of identity and those who cannot can still get IDs to pay taxes, which helps when they are before an immigration judge or the CIS to adjust status,” the statements reads. CIS stands for Citizens Immigration Services.
Conservatives said they also said they aren’t buying the argument that the ID cards will help those who have had difficulty obtaining government-issued photo IDs from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). “The arguments for convenience for those who are elderly or infirmed do not hold up as there are discounts at DMV and the way to resolve that problem is to address the delays at DMV. In addition, these IDs cannot possibly be used as identification for employment or for obtaining any state or federal benefit, at least not legally. E-verify is still in existence and social security match letters still go out to employers where there is a lack of a match,” the party’s statement reads.
The Wall Street Journal reported on May 1 that Police Commissioner William Bratton is not opposed to the bill but has raised concerns about its implementation, specifically, how it will affect the interaction between cops and the public.
"As in all things, the devil is going to be in the details," the Journal quoted Bratton as saying.
The Conservatives are urging New Yorkers to write to their local council members and demand that they vote against the Menchaca-Dromm bill.
The legislation has broad support, however, and is likely to pass. Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James are all supporting the bill.
“This landmark legislation to create the New York City Identity Card Program will go a long way towards helping New Yorkers access city services while also giving identification to those who have not had one before. We’re a city that believes in including everyone and this legislation will ensure that New Yorkers don’t fall through the cracks,” Mark-Viverito said.
“When passed by the council, this legislation will provide identification that will allow all New Yorkers access to city services, enter schools and other buildings. It is a benefit that I hope all residents will secure. I look forward to getting my card in the near future!” Dromm said.