Newark mayor's municipal ID program for undocumented immigrants to head to a vote

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on April 16, 2015

NEWARK — Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has proposed legislation establishing a municipal identification card program for undocumented immigrants and other city residents.

"We are waiting for the Council to approve the measure," Baraka said in a statement. "They still have some questions. Once they approve it, we will go forward."

The municipal ID program would give undocumented Newarkers an identification card that could give them access to city services and the ability to hold a bank account.

The current draft of the program would target the homeless, seniors, recently incarcerated and undocumented immigrants, according to chief policy advisor Tai Cooper and Rachel Louis, the city's administrative manager in the mayor's office of international relations and diaspora affairs.

Those populations — and others who get an ID Card — could also gain access to the local libraries and museums that currently require an ID card.

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.

The council agreed on Wednesday to amend city laws to strike proof of citizenship from the requirements to obtain a "peddler's license" and instead allow Newarkers' to show a municipal identification card once the program is implemented, said at-large councilman Carlos Gonzalez.

The council also plans to meet with the mayor's administration on Tuesday to discuss the details of the program, Gonzalez said.

"There are a lot of items (that) are still open," he said including what city entities would give out the ID cards and how it would be paid for.

The city is hoping to implement the program by July 1. Once approved, Cooper said the city hopes other municipalities will take similar measures.

"We really want to serve as a model for best practices throughout the state," she said.

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