Newark council set to vote on ID program for illegal immigrants tonight

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for
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on May 20, 2015

NEWARK — The City Council is set to vote tonight on a program that would establish a municipal identification card program for illegal immigrants and other Newark residents.

First floated by Mayor Ras Baraka in January, the program would give illegal immigrants an identification card that could give them access to city services and the ability to hold a bank account.

Officials have said the program is also intended to help the homeless, seniors, and recently incarcerated. Those populations and others who get an ID Card could also gain access to local libraries and museums that currently require identification to enter.

To obtain the card, residents would need to be at least 14 years old and show other forms of identification and residency which could include a utility bill, a visa card, a payment stub or a passport among other options.

The program would also help Newark entrepreneurs who want to obtain a license to sell goods on street corners but don't want to present proof of citizenship.

Last month, councilors voted to amend city laws to strike proof of citizenship from the requirements to obtain a "peddler's license", instead allowing Newarkers to show a municipal identification card once the program has been implemented.

The ordinance before the council notes that a similar ID card program introduced in New Haven, Conn. resulted in a significant reduction in robberies and armed robberies against illegal immigrants.

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio also introduced a similar program, dubbed IDNYC, earlier this year.

Tonight's City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. If the ordinance is approved, officials have said they would hope to begin issuing the cards by July.

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