By Madina Toure
On a rainy Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) formally launched the municipal ID, known as IDNYC, at the Queens Public Library in downtown Flushing.
De Blasio said the program would give residents, particularly undocumented immigrants, more access to basic city services.
“This is a great place to talk about what’s happening all over the city,” de Blasio said at the news conference, pointing out there are “17 locations like this where people are going today to apply for their municipal ID, IDNYC. This is a historic day because for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, this will be the first time they can get any kind of ID.”
Mark-Viverito said the law ensures that all New Yorkers are treated fairly and equally.
“In many ways, the IDNYC we are unveiling today is more than an ID card, it is an affirmation,” Mark-Viverito said. “It’s an affirmation that if you live here, that if you pay taxes, and if you send your kids to school here, you are a New Yorker.”
To apply for the cards, residents must present proof of identity and residency. The cards will be sent to their home address within two weeks.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who was at the ceremony, was the lead sponsor for the bill. City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) were also present.
City residents ages 14 and up are eligible for the card. Enrollment is free this year. There are 17 permanent enrollment centers throughout the five boroughs. Residents will not be asked about their immigration status when signing up for municipal IDs.
The law has also been praised for its consideration of transgender residents, residents in foster care, formerly incarcerated residents and veterans. IDNYC will also be accepted as valid primary identification for opening a bank or credit union account at more than 10 financial institutions.
Benefits include free one-year membership packages at 33 of the city’s cultural institutions as well as entertainment discounts on movie tickets, Broadway shows, sporting events and theme parks.
The legislation, signed into law July 10, allowed the city to start giving out the cards Jan. 10. The Human Resources Administration is overseeing the initiative.
The law hit close to home for Mexican native and Jackson Heights resident Esther Sanchez Morales, 42, who has been living in Queens for 13 years.
“Today is very important for me and for people like me that for a long time have been living in the city without an official ID,” Sanchez said tearfully in Spanish. “I am very grateful for the opportunity that the country and the city have given me. I want to contribute to this city.”
The 18th public enrollment center will open in the spring, and two mobile locations will launch in late January to increase accessibility across the five boroughs.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4566.