Municipal ID Signed into Law

On July 10, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Municipal ID Law, creating a creates a municipal identification card that will be accepted by city agencies and give New Yorkers greater access to cultural, educational and commercial services. Care for the Homeless strongly advocated for the Municipal ID bill since its introduction.
One of our client leaders, Anthony Wiliams, was one of 12 advocates who testified at the Mayoral Public Hearing the day before the law was signed and the only homeless advocate who spoke. Read his testimony below. Earlier this spring, Care for the Homeless testified at a New York City Council Hearing on the bill. Read more after the jump.

Care for the Homeless Client Testimony Supporting Municipal ID Legislation
By Anthony Williams, Client Leader
Presented to New York City Mayoral Public Hearing, July 9, 2014

My name is Anthony Williams. I’m a client leader with Care for the Homeless in New York City, an organization that has advocated for the municipal ID legislation - we’re very appreciative to the Mayor and Council for this law.

Anthony Williams
On May 28th of this year I was mugged on a subway platform – for the past 5 weeks I’ve been living without government accepted ID. As a person who has lived through chronic homelessness, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in need of ID or struggled to get one. When I thank you for this legislation I’m speaking first-hand about something I’ve lived through.

New York is the greatest city in the world, but it’s difficult to live here without government approved identification. Up until now getting proper ID hasn’t been easy or convenient. Having acceptable ID gives a person confidence and makes it much easier to access city and other resources and services, it makes it easier and more pleasant to interact with police and law enforcement and it makes it possible to use cultural and business services. We have world class services and opportunities in New York, but being without ID denies you the full opportunity to enjoy them.

If this municipal ID bill did no more than assist our undocumented non-citizen neighbors, why wouldn’t we support it? But it actually does far more. It opens up access and opportunities for New Yorkers like me, who though life-long citizens have difficulties due to losing ID and other documents through theft, natural disaster or for whatever reason. It will afford me the opportunity to say that I count. That is what this about, counting as a New Yorker.

That makes this law an opportunity I welcome, I support and I truly thank you for. 

Care for the Homeless Testimony Supporting Municipal ID Legislation
By Jeff Foreman, Care for the Homeless Policy Director
Presented to New York City Council Committee on Immigration, 
April 30, 2014
 
Chairman Menchaca and Members of the New York City Council Immigration Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today in support of Intro 253, the proposed New York City Identity Card legislation. 

If Municipal ID legislation did no more than assist in documenting undocumented non-citizens, so many of them our clients at Care for the Homeless, to more fully and conveniently allow their participate in the life and energy that is New York City, then it would be a wonderful, visionary piece of important legislation we would enthusiastically support. But it promises far more even than assistance to our perhaps more than half-a-million undocumented neighbors.

It promises aid to so many people buffeted by life changes and disruptions, displacement and any of a multitude of interruptions or calamities that often result in destroying, misplacing or losing important documents. It offers support to people displaced by fire, storm or mayhem; a helping hand to many sick or elderly who have lost documents; and certainly relief to many people experiencing homelessness.

For all these people – and others a municipal ID might offer relief – why wouldn’t we want to support our neighbors in need?

Among our own clients we often hear stories of undocumented immigrants or people who have lost IDs through disruptions who are in need of this legislation and would deeply value it.
This legislation is wisely written to require that the city not just appropriately issue city resident IDs, but also vigorously promote acceptance of the municipal ID program by banks and public and private institutions. This legislation holds out the hope that people who suffer poverty need not be excluded from New York’s cultural institutions, libraries, arts, and especially neighborhood banking that so many low-income people desperately need but can’t access.

We also applaud the provision in this legislation that rightly authorizes people temporarily housed in city shelters to establish residency with documentation from the shelter. Unstably housed people are deeply challenged in life, but they must not lose their rights or be treated as lesser based on their poverty or misfortune.

Municipal ID legislation can help avoid the stigma so many vulnerable people face: from those who have the availability only of a prison ID that punishes them far beyond their term of incarceration, to transgender people struggling to establish their real identity, to those stigmatized simply because they have no accepted ID card, a New York City resident identification program offers relief and a measure of dignity too often unavailable to them today.

Government residency ID programs have been around and used in significant numbers for the better part of a decade. They have stood the test of time without, in any meaningful numbers, resulting in the kind of problems those desperately in search of a reason to oppose this community service program are seeking. It raises concerns about the rationale for opposition.

I do not question any individual’s good intentions or personal motivation, and certainly appreciate other points of view, but I would point out that people are not “illegal” – nor are they without identity merely because they are without an official ID - and just as stigmatizing as calling people illegal, or barring people from full participation and dignity in our city is harmful – that is precisely how valuable a municipal ID program can and will be.

Thank you to Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chairman Menchaca, Chairman Dromm, and all the great supporters of this legislation and the dignity of vulnerable people on this City Council, as well as to Mayor de Blasio, for standing up for people in need, people like our 10,000 patients at Care for the Homeless, and so many of our New York neighbors who will benefit through your efforts.  

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