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 details still must be resolved before the planned January launch.
"For many New Yorkers, a proper ID is not in their wallets," de Blasio said at a Brooklyn news conference.
The card can be used for services at city institutions such as libraries, and the city is seeking commitments from banks to accept the ID for opening accounts, said commissioner of immigrant affairs Nisha Agarwal said. The city is seeking to ensure the cards will meet identification standards under federal banking regulations.
The application fee will waived for the program's first year, de Blasio said. The city has not set the eventual fee. It is finalizing what documents will be accepted to verify identity and residency and the points system by which the documents will be weighted.
Addressing concerns about threats to privacy, the mayor said personal information will not be shared with law enforcement agencies or other municipalities unless an applicant's identity must be verified or a judicial warrant or subpoena is issued. The city will not retain the records for longer than two years, de Blasio said.
The city will ensure access to data is limited to criminal investigation purposes and defend against any sort of "phishing expedition," Agawal said.
Advocates hope the ID also will benefit seniors, the homeless and the transgender community. Cardholders may identify as a gender other than male or female. The card may also embolden many to report crime without fear of deportation, supporters said.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said New York is improving immigrants' lives while Congress is deadlocked on comprehensive immigration reform, adding others "should be watching us today."
The ID program is to cost $8.4 million in its first year. It will be administered by the Mayor's Office of Operations with help from the Human Resources Administration.