Health & Human Services

NYC Is Next to Issue ID Cards to Undocumented Immigrants

July 11, 2014

If a police officer asks him for identification, Juan Carlos Gomez, an undocumented immigrant from Colombia, has nothing to show. He often cannot rent an apartment for lack of documentation; a friend has to do it for him.

And if he needs to fill a prescription, he is out of luck: Two years ago when he was prescribed medicine to deal with a severe allergy, a pharmacist refused to dispense the drug because Mr. Gomez could not prove he was Mr. Gomez.

“It’s simple things like that,” he said in an interview on Thursday in front of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. “You have to be in the shadows because of this situation.”

Mr. Gomez, 50, had come to the library to witness as Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill that would put an end to many of the obstacles that undocumented immigrants and other city residents have had to navigate for lack of official government identification. The law, which Mr. de Blasio made a priority of his administration, creates a New York municipal identification card that will be made available to any resident of the city, including immigrants like Mr. Gomez who are in the country illegally.

“There’s an advertisement we’ve seen many times, all of us, and the tag line is, ‘What’s in your wallet?’ ” the mayor said during the signing ceremony, which unfolded Thursday afternoon on the sun-soaked plaza of the library. “For so many New Yorkers, proper ID is not in their wallet and that means a lot for their day to day lives.”

The law makes New York the largest municipality in the nation to introduce such a plan, following several other cities, including Los Angeles, New Haven and San Francisco.

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