Where are The City’s ID cards?

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s request to suspend a plan to issue city identification cards is drawing fire from the supervisor who championed the idea. Supervisor Tom Ammiano has asked the city administrator to set a hard deadline for the program’s launch and said The City must stop “wavering.”

A year ago, Newsom gave his full support to the program, telling The Examiner in September 2007 that his staff had been informed to “move quickly and I’ll make sure that happens to support these efforts.”

The ID program would be provided for all city residents despite their legal status and was modeled after a program launched in New Haven, Conn. The IDs could provide anyone entering The City the rights to open up a bank account or qualify them for treatment at a city-run clinic.

In November, Ammiano’s legislation was approved in a 10-1 vote by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by Newsom. The program was scheduled to launch in August.

Last month, however, Newsom asked City Administrator Edwin Lee to delay rollout of the program until a review was completed. Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said the mayor’s move to delay the plan was “to make sure that the ID card program is implemented in a way that complies with all state and federal laws.”

Ballard said “the prudent thing to do is to move cautiously and judiciously forward with this program that would ensure its survival.”

Ammiano said he worked closely with the City Attorney’s Office in crafting the legislation to ensure it passed legal muster.

The mayor, who is eyeing a run for governor of California, has come under political fire nationally for The City’s status as a sanctuary city. Critics say the sanctuary policy, which bars city officials from cooperating with federal crackdowns on illegal immigrants, played a key role in the June 22 killings of a father and two sons because it allowed leaders to shield the alleged killer from deportation.

“This is not the time to look like we are wavering,” Ammiano said, criticizing the mayor during Tuesday’s board meeting.

He also charged that The City is sending the message that immigrants “need to be exploited because of my political career or somebody else’s political career.”

Ammiano has asked the city administrator to provide a specific date for the program’s launch, applying political pressure on city officials to take a stand. Ammiano said the program should launch in November.

“[Setting a date for the ID card] is a priority, but frankly I have 75 other priorities,” Newsom said Tuesday in response to Ammiano’s push to have a deadline set.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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