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New York to provide ID card for all, including illegal immigrants

An estimated 2,40,000 Indian immigrants are among 11 million foreigners living illegally in the United States without proper immigration documents

New York: New York City will offer a municipal identity card for all residents, including illegal immigrants, amid a federal-level deadlock over immigration reforms that seeks to provide citizenship to some 11 million undocumented people, including Indians.

The ID card will be issued to all residents of the five NYC boroughs, regardless of their immigration status. The city administration would immediately initiate implementation of the programme, with the goal of launching the new identification card in January 2015.

The card would be issued at no cost for applicants during the programme's first year. "We cannot accept a city where some of our residents are forced to live fearfully in the shadows, unable to visit their child's school or sign a lease. This legislation will begin to provide New Yorkers with the dignity and peace of mind they deserve," Mayor Bill de Blasio said here yesterday. "This bill has become reality because community activists and organisers worked tirelessly to make this day happen."

The card would ensure access to city services and grant admission to all municipal buildings to all city's residents, including the undocumented residents. The city is also aiming to have the card recognised by banks, as well as connecting the ID with stores, restaurants, cultural institutions and other incentive programmes.

The applicants will have to furnish proof of their identity and their residency in New York, which currently has 8.4 million residents. The city would protect the confidentiality of all municipal ID card applications, and would not ask applicants about their immigration status. Administration officials described the legislation as a "landmark" step that would create a "more fair and just city that is inclusive of all New Yorkers".

Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, said the bill signing is a transformative moment as it would provide New Yorkers with have access to the largest municipal identification programme in the country. "This identification programme is real celebration of the diversity of this city, and a commitment to the protection and inclusion of all," Menchaca said.

The legislation comes even as immigration reform remains stalled in Washington.

US President Barack Obama has appealed to the Republican leadership of the Congress to pass the comprehensive immigration reform to address successfully in future problems like the current humanitarian crisis on the country's Southern border with Mexico. Obama said the legislation, when signed into law would pave the way for citizenship to some 11 million undocumented people, including Indians.

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