Over the summer, a plan was proposed to introduce into New York City a municipal identification card program which is a form of identification card that is not issued by the state or federal government but offered by the city itself. Municipality identification cards enable people who are immigrants or who have a criminal status to apply for a card without repercussion due to their status. It also provides special benefits to civilians of said city they are in applying for the card.
However, what does New York City’s municipal card—called IDNYC—mean for its residents, and are there any ill stipulations attached to it for members who are interested in applying for the card who belong to either non-white communities, low-income neighborhoods, immigrants, and those who may have criminal backgrounds?
IDNYC was signed into law during the summer with the sole intention of making the city work more efficiently and effectively for all New Yorkers, so say the Mayor’s office. And last Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio along with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other elected officials and civic leaders officially launched the municipal identification program for all residents throughout the five boroughs.
IDNYC was primarily put into law to help those who do not currently have a government-issued ID and may not be able to obtain one due to possibly being homeless or being one of the estimated 500,000 immigrants who live in the city acquire legal documentation.
“IDNYC identifies you as a card-carrying New Yorker,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who is the card’s main backer, back on Monday, January 12th. “This is an exciting day, because today we are saying that all New Yorkers—regardless of gender identity, immigration status, homelessness, or other identifiers—are an important part of our city.”
According to the Mayor’s office, the benefits that come with the card are:
Discounts on various entertainment venues like on movie tickets, Broadway shows, sporting events, theme parks, and especially with Entertainment Benefits Group;
A 10% discount off annual NYC Parks Recreation Center membership for adults aged 25-61 years old and NYC Parks Department tennis permits;
A 20% discount on family memberships at all 22 YMCA centers citywide;
A free 30-day trial and fitness evaluation with a certified trainer at all New York Sports Club locations;
A 5% discount off all purchases at Food Bazaar supermarkets in the city from Monday through Friday in-between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
A 25% discount on New York Pass which is a citywide pass to tourist attractions in all five boroughs;
And a package of a free one-year membership at 33 of the city’s museums, performing arts centers, botanical gardens, and zoos.
Along with the benefits above, the card will also act as what it is supposed to do: be a form of identification for people in the city who cannot obtain a state ID do to not have the required materials to do so. The card will allow citizens—who couldn’t before—gain access to all city buildings, including government offices, schools and hospitals by giving them proper identification credentials.
Also, the IDNYC card will be accepted as primary identification for card holders who want to open a bank or credit union account at more than ten financial institutions. It will also be added to the city’s official prescription drug discount card, BigAppleRx which will allow those who hold the card up to 50% off most FDA approved prescription medications at local NYC pharmacies.
The card will be accepted by the New York Police Department as well. The card has been added into the NYPD’s Patrol Guide which will enabled officers to issue summonses or desk-appearance tickets despite arresting people who may not be able to hold legal identification cards.
On Friday, thousands of people within the city enrolled in the IDNYC program within an estimated more than 50,000 New Yorkers booking appointments in order to learn how to use the full benefits the card has to offer, according to city officials.
But are there any secret stipulations that may be attached to signing up for the card?
Some may think that since the card is mostly aimed at the immigrant, low-income, and those who may have a criminal status background the card may attract members from all over the city who may be of non-White communities. Due to recent conflicts between the city and NYPD and the city itself, the presence of the card could be a way for the city to watch over specific persons of interest.
However, this notion in itself is not backed by any reports generated from other cities that have the municipal card offered their citizens. Municipal cards have been in use since 2007—since its introduction in New Haven, Connecticut which relied on the card to protect its immigration community from potential thefts—and no incidents have been reported to suggest that other cities are using the card in such a manner.
In fact, to make the immigrant community feel safe about the IDNYC de Blasio has stated that the city will protect the confidentiality of all IDNYC card applications and will not ask applicants about their legal citizen status.
While the card may seem to only benefit a few, IDNYC has been created with the intention of benefitting ALL New Yorkers living in the city who want to enjoy it and feel it is a city that cares for them.