New Haven's ID cards to benefit undocumented immigrants

Conn. city offers illegal immigrants IDs (by John Christoffersen, AP - 7.24.07)

Dozens of people lined up at City Hall on Tuesday for municipal identification cards, the first city-issued ID cards specifically designed to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows and give them access to community services.

The cards, available to New Haven's entire population, are meant to help anyone without a state- or federal-issued ID open a bank accounts and use other services that would otherwise be inaccessible. Advocates argue that if immigrants can open bank accounts, they will be less likely to carry large amounts of cash, a practice that makes them easy targets for robbers.

An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 of New Haven's 125,000 residents are believed to be in the country illegally.

"The simple straightforward purpose here is to build a stronger community," Mayor John DeStefano said. "You can't police a community of people who won't talk to our cops."

The mayor said the federal government had failed to address immigration-related issues, forcing cities to find ways to manage them. New Haven is simply acknowledging the people who already live there, he said.


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