The NYPD will accept the city’s new municipal ID cards, available to undocumented immigrants, as a proper form of government identification, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
The ID cards, which were approved by the City Council in June and are set to become available next year, were designed in part to offer undocumented immigrants who cannot obtain drivers licenses a valid form of government ID. The administration has also argued that they will be useful for groups like senior citizens who often do not have proper identification.
The program was among one of the mayor’s biggest policy proposals in his State of the City address this year, and in the press release today, his administration took a bit of an end-of-year victory lap—the release included quotes from 15 lawmakers, many in the city’s Congressional delegation, praising the program.
“It’s critical for all New Yorkers who come into contact with the Police Department, including those who are undocumented, to be able to identify themselves and to do it in an atmosphere of safety,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement today. “This is going to play a crucial role in both preventing unnecessary arrests of New Yorkers who were previously unable to show identification and in deepening the relationship between police and community.”
Mr. de Blasio has in the past urged citizens to carry photo ID to avoid arrest in situations where an officer cannot confirm their identity, and otherwise might just issue a ticket. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the ID cards, dubbed IDNYC by the city, would help reduce those arrests.
“This policy change will allow individuals who have a valid IDNYC to be able to receive a summons or desk appearance ticket, instead of being held for arrest processing because they are not able to be identified. It is part of our larger mission to forge public trust with the communities we serve,” Mr. Bratton said.
Mr. de Blasio’s Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Nisha Agarwal, said current policy leaves too many New Yorkers without ID apprehensive to do things as simple as checking in at a security desk in a building or visiting a hospital.
“The acceptance of this card by the NYPD and their commitment to building bridges between law enforcement and our immigrant communities will serve as a model for cities nationwide,” Ms. Agarwal said.
The department’s “Patrol Guide,” the compendium of departmental rules and regulations, will be changed to include the IDNYC card as acceptable proof of identity alongside driver’s licenses, driver’s permits and state non-driver IDs.
The approval from the NYPD comes after the handful of Council members who voted against the program questioned whether the IDs and the process of getting them would be secure enough. In its announcement today, the de Blasio administration noted the department had been working with the city in creating the program—the Council largely left it up to the administration to hash out the rules—to prevent fraud.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who pushed for the legislation, praised the decision from the NYPD.
“As we work to strengthen ties between the police and the communities they serve, the IDNYC will ensure greater access to justice in their interactions with law enforcement, just as the Council intended when it passed the law. I applaud Commissioner Bratton and the New York City Police Department for working with us and understanding the importance of integrating all New Yorkers into our city. It is my hope that this crucial step will prevent unnecessary arrests and encourage more crime victims to come forward,” she said.