nyc immigrant id cards
People wait in line to be processed for their New York City municipal ID cards at a midtown library, Jan. 14, 2015. AFP/Getty Images/Don Emmert

A “resounding success” is how New York City officials described a municipal identification card program this week, marking the one year anniversary of IDNYC. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced Tuesday night that more than 730,000 New Yorkers have been issued a municipal ID, which was offered to any resident, regardless of their immigration status.

That makes IDNYC the most successful of similar efforts launched around the U.S. in the last several years. Older municipal ID programs in over a dozen cities, including Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New Haven, Connecticut, had issued as few as 12,000 cards and as many as 20,000 ID cards one year ago.

New York City’s program was considered the most ambitious because of the city’s large immigrant population. Immigrant rights advocates said the card was needed to improve safety and quality of life for undocumented people, who are often vulnerable to exploitation by criminals and feel excluded from vital city services. But the card’s popularity was also driven by the number of perks offered to enrollees.

The card is accepted as valid primary identification at some city banks and credit unions, city government buildings, schools and hospitals that require photo ID. It is also valid as identification during interactions with city law enforcement.

As advertised, the card comes with discounts on movie tickets, Broadway shows, sporting events, gym membership, city tourist attractions and museums. Cardholders took advantage, signing up for more than 160,000 free memberships at cultural institutions, the city said.

New Yorkers with municipal ID cards also reaped $289,951 in savings on groceries and prescription drugs, according to the mayor’s office. The card, which was offered free during its launch on Jan. 13, 2015, will continue to be free in 2016.

There were virtually not wait times at more than 29 IDNYC regislation locations placed throughout the city, an officials in the mayor's office of immigrant affairs said Wednesday. Following last year's launch, queues filled with residents wrapped around enrollment sites. The city suggested that prospective enrollees book appointments through an online system.

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