City Council Votes Overwhelmingly to Pass Municipal I.D. Bill

Councilman Danny Dromm at an I.D. card rally. (Photo: Kelly Weill)

Councilman Danny Dromm at an I.D. card rally. (Photo: Kelly Weill)

The City Council voted overwhelmingly today to approve the creation of municipal identification cards that will allow immigrants living in the country illegally to access crucial city services.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign the bill into law, spearheading yet another piece of liberal legislation that would have likely hit roadblocks in the previous administration.

“It is a sound policy, it is humane policy,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters before the vote. “We can serve as a model for the rest of the nation today.”

The bill, pushed forward with Mr. de Blasio’s strong backing, is aimed at providing documentation for the roughly half million undocumented immigrants in the city. Many of these immigrants will be able to show identification that is required for tasks like opening a bank account, seeing a doctor or signing a lease.

Ms. Mark-Viverito said there will be strict residency requirements for the I.D. cards, though she did not immediately provide details about what they would be. The implementation will cost $8.4 million in the next fiscal year, she said, and the city will try to provide incentives for undocumented residents to sign up.

Councilmen Carlos Menchaca and Danny Dromm, two members of the council’s progressive wing, co-sponsored the bill. Mr. Dromm said implementing the I.D. card program had been a dream of his since he first entered the council.

“This is something I dreamed about for the last five years,” Mr. Dromm said, praising Ms. Mark-Viverito for shepherding the bill into law.

Mr. Menchaca said the bill’s passage is just one more example of how the left-leaning council and mayor, who have already passed a new paid sick days law that irked conservatives, are moving the city in a leftward direction as promised.

“This is something that is an example of the kind of work that everyone was asking for on January 1st,” Mr. Menchaca said. “This is a direct manifestation of the mayor and council working together.”

Critics of the cards believe it will allow benefits, which in some cases cost government funds, to people who should not be living in the United States. The NYPD raised questions about whether the cards could be fraudulently reproduced and at least one Republican, Hudson Valley State Senator Greg Ball, told Mr. Dromm in a television debate that the program would only aid potential terrorists. 

Councilman Dan Garodnick, who voted for the bill, expressed concerns about whether banks would actually accept the cards and what exactly will be done to protect against fraud. Mr. Garodnick, a Manhattan Democrat who opposed Ms. Mark-Viverito for speaker, also wished the council had taken more time to consider the bill.

“There are open issues here we are delegating to the mayor to sort out including how to conclusively to prevent fraud,” Mr. Garodnick said. He also wondered whether the cards would just make it easier for the government to target undocumented immigrants.

Republican Councilman Vincent Ignizio, the minority leader, was one of the few “no” votes, lamenting that the “rule-making” process was being turned over to the de Blasio administration. All three Republicans voted against the bill.

“I believe there are legitimate security concerns that have not been adequately addressed,” he said.