A law voted by the City Council on Thursday will improve access to government-issued identity cards that connect students to services.
The law would mandate local high schools to send teenagers and young adults who are undocumented immigrants, homeless, or otherwise in need of Identification cards with applications to IDNYC, a program that allows New Yorkers to navigate city agencies and create bank accounts irrespective of their immigration status.
“Far too often, we know our families and students miss out on incredible resources New York City has to offer because they’re simply unaware,” said the bill’s sponsor Councilwoman Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn) on Thursday.
The picture IDs, which were introduced in 2015, serve as a library cards and allow individuals to apply for employment and housing, visit municipal offices, and obtain medicines. Cardholders also have access to dozens of museums, zoos, and other discounts across the city.
According to city data, an estimated 14,000 children and teenagers seeking refuge have registered in public schools since the summer, as part of a massive influx of migrants that Mayor Adams has declared an emergency.
“This policy is particularly important for students from marginalized communities who may not have access to traditional forms of identification,” Joseph remarked, “and who may face barriers to accessing the services they need.”
Together with disseminating applications, school personnel must also provide information on eligibility, the documents necessary to confirm identification and domicile, and perks and discounts.
“We really think that it’s crucial,” said Theodore Moore, vice president of policy and programs at the charitable organization, New York Immigration Coalition, “not only for everyone because young people need access to identification, but specifically for newcomer asylum seekers to be able to apply for social services or just to get inside some of these government buildings.”
This summer, libraries observed an increase in the number of ID applications from asylum seekers anxious to get evidence of identification in order to enroll their children in school. Advocates claim that the law will make the procedure easier and raise awareness.
Naveed Hasan, a parent and Panel for Educational Policy member who has been assisting newcomers at his child’s public school with IDNYC for months, called the law a “no-brainer.”
“This bill should be supported by everyone,” Hasan stated.
During a bill hearing in January, education officials stated that they “support the goals” of the measure.