Newark in New Jersey is being applauded by immigrant advocates following its decision to become the latest major city in the United States to create a municipal ID program accessible to everyone, including undocumented immigrants. On Monday the legislation, which was approved by the city council, was signed into law by Mayor Ras Baraka and made Newark New Jersey’s only city to offer ID cards to residents regardless of their legal status.
Newark, which has a population of over 300,000 including a large immigrant community, is following the lead of one of the biggest cities in the United States. New York, which began the country’s most ambitious ID program back in January, offers incentives for universal enrollment via benefits exclusive to those holding the cards.
These programs are part of an effort by leaders in the Democratic Party to encourage undocumented immigrants to start interacting more with their communities and city agencies. The leaders also support the executive action taken by President Obama on immigration reform, which would extend work permits and offer protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants.
The ID card offered by Newark will serve as proof of residency and identity and give access to schools, cultural institutions and city agencies, according to officials. All residents over the age of 14 will be eligible to receive the card, including “marginalized people in the community” such as immigrants, the disabled, and former prison inmates.