A state senator in New York wants Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take New York City’s municipal ID program statewide. The city’s ID program, unveiled more than a year ago, allows city residents to obtain government-issued identity cards regardless of immigration status.
But state Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Democrat from the New York City’s Bronx borough, wants a proposed statewide version of the program to include homeless individuals and anyone else who does not have a legal form of identification. Implementing the ID policy “would be a strong indication of how much [Cuomo] truly cares not only for our immigrant community but for the whole New York State,” Diaz said in a statement released Wednesday.
New York City’s program, dubbed IDNYC, opened in January 2015. City officials said they issued more than 730,000 cards in the first year. Applicants need only be older than 14 and prove their residency in one of the city’s five boroughs — paving the way for grocery and pharmacy discounts, library access, free museum memberships and other perks.
A statewide ID program previously was attempted in 2007 and 2013, the Albany Times Union reported. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer pushed a program in 2007 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses. But Spitzer dropped the plan months after he announced it due to a public outcry against the proposal. State lawmakers tried to revive the ID program in 2013, but that effort fizzled.
Cuomo has previously supported pro-immigrant policies. Last December, the governor blasted Republican presidential candidates and other federal lawmakers calling for anti-immigrant policies that target Muslims, Syrian refugees and Mexicans in the U.S.
The governor, referencing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, asked: "You want to build walls? You want to keep the Muslims out?” the Times Union reported. “We believe in freedom of religion. It's one of the founding premises of the entire country.”