Sunday, April 20, 2014

Controversial proposal to issue municipal identity cards is personal to City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

Menchaca, the first Mexican-American member of the City Council, said tens of thousands of immigrant families live with the fear of deportation in New York. The Brooklyn Democrat wants to change that with legislation he’s co-sponsoring to create municipal ID cards.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, April 19, 2014, 11:39 PM




City Councilman Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn outside of New York City Hall in Manhattan on April 11, 2014. (Pearl Gabel/New York Daily News) Pearl Gabel/Pearl Gabel/ New York Daily News City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, the first Mexican-American member of the City Council, said tens of thousands of immigrant families live with the fear of deportation in New York. The Brooklyn Democrat wants to change that with legislation he’s co-sponsoring to create municipal ID cards.
For City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, a controversial proposal to issue municipal identity cards is personal.
As a child in El Paso, Texas, he always feared deportation, he said, even though he was an American citizen. His single mother, who was born in El Paso and had U.S. citizenship, actually was booted from the country several times — once while she worked at a bakery which was raided by federal agents.
“Even for me, as a citizen, I didn’t feel always safe,” Menchaca, 33, told the Daily News. “I grew up in my family feeling like we were in the shadows.”
Menchaca, the first Mexican-American member of the City Council, said tens of thousands of immigrant families live with the same fear in New York. The Brooklyn Democrat wants to change that with legislation he’s co-sponsoring to create municipal ID cards.
The New York City Identity Card would be offered to city residents regardless of their legal status, making it easier for undocumented immigrants to lease apartments, open bank accounts and even pick up their kids from school. It would be especially beneficial for people without a driver’s license.
The idea was touted by Mayor de Blasio in his campaign and in his State of the City speech.
The legislation was introduced this month, and hearings will start by the middle of May, according to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan).
“It’s very much a priority for this city,” she said.
The cards would be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Operations and contain the cardholder’s photo, name, date of birth and address.
“There will be many benefits as we move forward for how this card can be used,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), the other co-sponsor of the bill.
Municipal ID cards are already issued in Oakland and San Francisco; in Trenton and Princeton N.J.; and in New Haven, Conn.
Roughly 6,000 cards have been issued in Trenton and Princeton since 2009, said Maria Juega, executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Not everyone is a fan of the idea.
State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Putnam) has called de Blasio “just plain stupid” for pushing the proposal.
“This extreme mayor is blatantly creating a fictitious identity for hundreds of thousands of individuals without putting in place the proper safety protocols,” said Ball, chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.
He added that the cards could be used by terrorists as “breeder” documents.
Menchaca responded that existing state and federal regulations would prevent undocumented immigrants from using the cards for nefarious purposes.
He said it would help people like his mother, Magdalena, who felt she couldn’t access basic services or secure a living-wage job.
Menchaca remembers when he was a young boy, and waking up before dawn to help his mother at her cleaning job. He would go with his two younger brothers at 4 a.m., before school started, to help her scrub and polish libraries and banks for below minimum wage.
“There was a fear that she didn’t have any recourse,” he said.
“These are the reasons why I’m fighting for so many immigrant workers and families that find themselves in this place, not able to access legal services or any kind of services.”
clestch@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/city-identity-card-proposal-personal-city-councilman-carlos-menchaca-article-1.1762475#ixzz2zRZXoiIB
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