Government Technology

New York City Launches City-Specific ID Card


January 9, 2015 By

Residents of New York City will soon have a chance to receive a free, city-specific ID card.

In an attempt to bring official documentation to disenfranchised groups like illegal immigrants and the formerly incarcerated, a new ID card -- available only to those living within city bounds -- will be offered starting mid-January. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said the program, called IDNYC, will help to enhance public safety by providing more people with identification and help to fight inequality. Funded through the mayor’s office with city funds, the 2015 budget for the program is $8.4 million.

“We are launching the most ambitious municipal ID program in the country, by scale, benefits, security and privacy,” NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal wrote in an email to Government Technology. “The IDNYC program underscores Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to fighting inequality and integrating into our communities the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including undocumented immigrants, homeless individuals and disconnected young adults.”

The new ID card will not serve as a replacement for existing ID cards because the card will not be usable to purchase tobacco or alcohol, receive public assistance benefits, travel by air, gain work authorization or grant immigrant status. The card is intended as a supplementary ID or alternative for those who can't obtain legitimate identification otherwise.

Several California municipalities offer citizens city-specific ID, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco. Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn.; Asbury Park, N.J.; Mercer County, N.J.; and Monmouth County, N.J., also offer similar identification.

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