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S.F. to Issue ID
Cards to Immigrants and Trans People

S.F. to Issue ID
Cards to Immigrants and Trans People

San Francisco has tentatively approved a program to provide identification cards to illegal immigrants, transgender people, and other residents who may be unable or unwilling to get a state-issued driver's license. The board of supervisors, San Francisco's version of a city council, voted 10-1 Tuesday to approve the program. Next week it will take a final vote, which is considered a formality. Mayor Gavin Newsom has said he intends to sign the measure.

San Francisco has tentatively approved a program to provide identification cards to illegal immigrants, transgender people, and other residents who may be unable or unwilling to get a state-issued driver's license.

The board of supervisors, San Francisco's version of a city council, voted 10-1 Tuesday to approve the program. Next week it will take a final vote, which is considered a formality. Mayor Gavin Newsom has said he intends to sign the measure.

The identification card program was modeled after one launched this summer in New Haven, Conn., and is designed to help residents without IDs access services and feel safe dealing with police.

Similar programs have been proposed in New York City and Miami, but so far San Francisco is the biggest city to adopt one.

The supervisors directed the city clerk to start issuing the ID cards within nine months. The lone dissenter had concerns about the cost to implement the program.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced the ID card concept after Congress failed to adopt immigration reform legislation this summer and following a series of federal immigration raids in the Bay area.

''Our city just can't stand by while our federal government takes no action to address the safety needs of our community,'' he said. ''If our friends and neighbors are not fully able to participate with us in civic life, we all lose in the end.''

The program, scheduled to go into effect next August, will charge adults $15 for each card and children $5 to defray costs, which are expected to run between $423,000 and $1.1 million during the first year.

To be eligible, residents would have to produce an existing photo ID, such as a passport or foreign driver's license, as well as a recent utility bill or bank statement. The recipients cannot use the IDs to drive; they would still need a state driver's license.

Government agencies and nonprofit groups that receive city funds would be required to accept the cards as valid identification and proof of residency except for hiring or other areas where doing so conflicts with federal or state laws.

Some of the services that ID holders could use are libraries, public golf courses, health clinics, and cultural institutions that give resident discounts such as museums and zoos, Ammiano said.

The cards, available to the city's 750,000 residents, are intended for undocumented residents who are ineligible for driver's licenses, senior citizens who no longer drive, and transgender people whose driver's licenses no longer reflect their appearances.

Unlike in New Haven, where anti-immigration groups actively opposed the cards, the ID measure has not met much dissent in San Francisco. Labor unions, advocates for the homeless, and immigrant rights activists all lobbied for its passage.

Kica Matos, the community services administrator for New Haven, population 125,000, said the city, which expected to issue about 5,000 municipal IDs in one year, has issued 4,631 in 3 1/2 months. (Lisa Leff, AP)

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