Finding a way to provide Los Angeles’ large undocumented immigrant population with some kind of government identification card has led city officials to consider an innovative solution already at use in other California cities. Undocumented immigrants cannot legally obtain driver’s licenses or state ID cards, but Bay Area cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond already issue identification cards to their undocumented residents which allow them to open bank accounts and avail themselves of other municipal services.
The plan now under consideration by Los Angeles officials would hinge on a multi-use ID card issued through city libraries that would feature the cardholder’s name, address and photograph. The card would also serve as a debit card for the region’s estimated 300,000 undocumented residents who are traditionally at risk for exploitation by businesses and criminals that prey on residents who are only able to use cash. Critics say that the program would provide an opportunity for terrorists to obtain U.S. identification as well as spark an increase in illegal immigration.
How should Los Angeles officials address the issue of identification for undocumented workers? Is administering an ID card through the library system the best way to bring undocumented residents out of the shadows?
Richard Alarcón, L.A. City Councilmember for District 7 - the 7th City Council District covering the northeast section of the San Fernando Valley; Alarcón initiated this proposal
Tim Donnelly, California State Assemblyman, (R-59th District which includes San Bernardino and San Dimas