Andrew Yang calls on big banks to honor immigrants using IDNYC

Andrew Yang during his Jan. 14 campaign launch for mayor.
Photo by Mark Hallum

Democratic candidate for mayor, Andrew Yang, wants to bring financial equity to immigrant New Yorkers by calling on big banks to recognize ID NYC to cut their dependency on check-cashing services, prepaid cards, or money transfers. 

Believed to cost some New Yorkers up to $3,000 per year, according to Yang, a lack of access to banking can leave many undocumented city residents as prey for what he sees as antiquated services to charge too much for transactions.

Yang made the announcement in Abolition Park outside of City Hall on Sunday.

“It is outrageous that in the financial capital of the world, nearly a million immigrant and low-income New Yorkers are locked out of the banking system,” Yang said. “As Mayor, I promise to use the tens of billions of dollars the city deposits with big banks every year as leverage to demand those banks open their doors to the immigrants, often undocumented, who make New York, New York. As we build towards the vision of a People’s Bank of New York City, we must guarantee that no New Yorker gets forgotten today.”

Newly sworn-in Congressman Ritchie Torres, who is serving as co-chair of Yang’s campaign, gave high regards to the de Blasio administration’s IDNYC program which was launched in 2015 as an alternative to identification cards that required citizenship in order to attain.

New Yorkers as young as 10 years old qualify.

“We need to build on the staggering success of the IDNYC program, which has enabled immigrants especially to develop a deeper sense of belonging as New Yorkers. Yet the biggest banks in New York City continue to refuse to accept IDNYC as a valid source of identification, excluding the most vulnerable – the poor and the undocumented – from our financial system. We need to put money in the pockets of poor people rather than letting predatory financial institutions take it away from them. There is no place for financial discrimination in the financial capital of the world.”

Generally designed to help people — regardless of immigration status — attain city services, Yang believes that as mayor he will be able to leverage the city’s depositing power to influence financial institutions into agreeing with the request.

Yang also plans to expand on the benefits of having a city-issued ID such as access to cash relief and to a “People’s Bank of New York City.”

The former presidential candidate entered the race for mayor on Thursday, joining a host of other Democratic hopefuls such as Borough President Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Civilian Complaint Review Board Chair Maya Wiley, former Sanitation czar Kathryn Garcia, former federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Dianne Morales.

The Democratic primary for mayor will be held on June 22.