Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday signed into law a municipal ID program intended to provide legal documentation for residents regardless of immigration status, though many of the card's details are still being hammered out.
The card, which will be launched in January can be used for services at many city institutions and the city is seeking commitments from banks to accept the ID for opening accounts, said commissioner of immigrant affairs Nisha Agarwal. The city is seeking to ensure the cards will meet identification standards under federal banking regulations.
"You know there's an advertisement we've seen many times all of us, and the tag line is 'What's in your wallet?' Well, here's the thing about this city. For so many New Yorkers, a proper ID is not in their wallet," said de Blasio at a press conference announcing the cards' availability.
"It creates a lot of problems and challenges for people. And that's gone on for years and years. It's gone on unaddressed... And so much of the rest of the country, a driver's license is very, very common. But in New York City, roughly half of city residents 16 years old or older do not have a driver's license. So right there we have a different reality," the mayor said.
"And we obviously also have a city that has welcomed people from all over the world, every kind of person... For them, an ID has not been a possibility, and that's hindered their everyday life... they don't have access to some of the things that are so important, the things that should be easy and are so necessary if you want to open a bank account, you want to lease an apartment.
Well today we're going to change that. Because of the actions of so many people here, and ultimately with the stroke of a pen, we're going to change that once and for all. The bill before me paves the way for the creation of the New York City Municipal Identification Card," he said.
"And it brings us one step closer to fulfilling the promise I made in my State of the City address."