San Francisco could become the first large city in the nation to issue illegal immigrants as well as other residents a municipal identification card that establishes their residency and opens up the door to a number of city services.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced the so-called Municipal Identification Card legislation Tuesday and has gained the support of six other colleagues on the board, making its adoption likely. Mayor Gavin Newsom has also signaled his support of a city-issued ID card.
San Francisco would begin issuing such ID cards nine months from adoption of the law. The cards would be issued to any San Francisco resident who requests one and who can also provide some form of identification and proof of residency, such as a utility bill. The cards would not list an address nor would The City collect such information to protect illegal immigrants from punishment by the federal government.
The cards would cost $15 for adults and $5 for minors, seniors and low-income adults.
The legislation would require all city departments and city entities receiving city funds to accept the ID as a valid proof of identification. The ID cards would be issued by the county clerk, who currently also issues marriage licenses.
“You can have someone come into your house and clean your kitchen but then they don’t have any way to take their kids to the public library,” Ammiano said. “It doesn’t seem very fair.”
The legislation is expected to draw criticism from those who advocate for stronger enforcement of immigration laws.
Advocates of the legislation said it puts substance behind The City’s “sanctuary” status, which dates back to 1989, and promises that San Francisco officials do not assist federal authorities in looking for illegal immigrants.
The ID cards are intended to benefit residents who do not have ID, including the homeless, children and illegal immigrants. Failing to have IDs, illegal immigrants are prevented from opening bank accounts and are often targets of robberies because they are known to carry cash on them or have it in their homes, according to immigrant advocates. Having an ID card will also prompt more immigrants to report crimes, according to Ammiano, because they would no longer fear being arrested for not having a required form of identification.
If the legislation is adopted, San Francisco would follow in the footsteps of New Haven, Conn., which adopted a similar ID program in July and has since issued about 3,000 cards. New York City is also considering issuing ID cards.