NYC Council speaker to pitch municipal ID card to Phoenix

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Sample of an NYC identification card (Source: NYC.gov) Sample of an NYC identification card (Source: NYC.gov)
New York City officials who launched the city's municipal identification card, the nation's largest program, did so with the hope of inspiring other cities to follow suit and offer IDs to those without them, including many immigrants living in the country illegally.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the driving forces behind the IDNYC card, next month will offer her advice on launching the card in a hotbed of debate on illegal immigration: Phoenix, Arizona.

Officials in Phoenix, a Democrat-leaning city in a very Republican state, are exploring the creation of an ID card. The charge is being led by One Phoenix ID, a coalition of business groups and civic organizations who have invited Mark-Viverito to speak there on April 17.

"It's a little bit of a different climate on immigration there," Mark-Viverito told The Associated Press on Monday. "At times there has been a real anti-immigrant sentiment. We want to talk about what we've done to be more welcoming."

"Hopefully we may inspire others to consider that," said Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who has emerged as an outspoken proponent of immigration reform.

Last week, a subcommittee of the Phoenix city council voted to study the possibility of launching a program similar to the ones used in New York, San Francisco and Oakland. That hearing turned contentious at times, as several residents in attendance expressed loud reservations over the plan.

More than 30,000 New Yorkers already have obtained an ID card, which became available in January. Initially there were long delays in scheduling an appointment to get a card, but an influx of resources has recently streamlined the process.

The card, which is free this year, is aimed at those who do not currently have a government-issued ID, including the elderly, homeless and an estimated 500,000 immigrants in the city who live in the U.S. without legal documentation.

All New Yorkers age 14 and older are eligible, as long as they can prove their identity and city residency.

To prevent any possible stigma that the ID is only carried by immigrants who are in the country illegally, the city has created an incentive program to entice all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, to get a card. Cardholders will be eligible for free memberships at many of the city's signature cultural institutions as well as other discounts.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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