New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently gave his state of the city address. During his speech, he spoke about education programs for young children, taxes, and even some controversial immigration matters.
Specifically, he stated that he will be pushing for the creation and implementation of municipal identification cards for undocumented immigrants. He had promised this ID program during his campaign, and it looks like he is following through on that promise. He stated that this ID program will make it so undocumented immigrants will not have to “live their lives in the shadows.”
There would be many benefits if undocumented immigrants were permitted to receive government-issued ID cards. These benefits range from the simple and basic, to more significant forms of relief. Currently, undocumented immigrants cannot get library cards, bank accounts or even retail store memberships because they are unable to produce identification. One substantial benefit would include individuals being able to lease apartments with their newly issued ID cards.
New York is not be the first city to implement this type of program. Other cities have policies like this and have already seen great success. For instance, Fair Haven, Connecticut reported a 20% decrease in crime two years after starting its ID program.
Since Mayor de Blasio's state of the city speech, many immigration advocates have publicly thanked and acknowledged the mayor for his contribution towards fixing the nation's broken immigration system. However, immigration advocates will be watching closely to make sure that the N.Y. mayor “gets it right.”
When it comes to immigration reform, city leaders throughout the country have become more vocal over the last few weeks. This involvement includes a letter signed by over 100 mayors to Members of Congress asking them to swiftly pass immigration reform.
As head of the Immigration Committee, City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), announced that committee members have already been meeting and have begun drafting a bill that would create the cards. In addition, a public hearing will be held by the end of March 2014. It seems that the city of New York is ready to make a change. “We're not going to wait for a federal government to give us reform,” Menchaca said.
Although many are happy with this new development, some advocates caution that there may be some stumbling blocks along the way. For example, Steve Choi, executive director of the New York City Immigration Coalition, has said that city leaders and agencies are being put in charge of a huge project. If not executed properly, those that are granted these IDs may become “branded somehow” and will face just as many challenges as before the ID program was rolled out.
What do you think? Has this recent wave of mayoral support made any type of significant step in getting immigration reform passed this year? Further, if immigration reform is passed in 2014, will this encourage city leaders to do even more for immigration? And if so, what further changes could we expect (or hope) to see later this year?