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The Promise of Municipal ID Programs


On Monday July 13, 2015, the Center for Popular Democracy and Local Progress released a toolkit of best practices on the implementation of municipal ID programs.sf city idIDNYC-logo

Leaders such as San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, New York City Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha AgarwalRachel Louis from the Newark Mayor’s office, Emily Tucker from the Center for Popular Democracy, and Tomas Robles from Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) explained the significance, process and challenges of implementing Municipal ID programs. Below are the most emphasized best practices that they mentioned:10 Best Practices of Municipal ID Programs

  • Work with the community members and local advocates to develop and implement the program.
  • Avoid attaching a pre-paid debit card to the ID. Instead develop partnerships with financial institutions to open broader access to services for cardholders.
  • Include card features that will attract a wide range of applicants by negotiating and partnering with local businesses for discounts or memberships. For example, IDNYC includes benefits for veterans and SF City ID Card’s discounts to local businesses.
  • Conduct trainings with the local police to ensure that they will accept the municipal ID in the field and incorporate the municipal ID into the patrol manual.
  • Prohibit the retention of application documents to protect the applicants’ privacy.

Municipal ID programs are important because all residents in our cities deserve equal access to basic services. Municipal IDs help prevent residents from being apprehensive about checking in at the security desk of a building, entering a hospital or reporting a crime. Municipal IDs can also help build the relationship between police and community members by preventing unnecessary arrests for those who were previously unable to show valid forms of identification.

In terms of challenges and opposition to the program, Supervisor Eric Mar explained that they were able to overcome a lawsuit delaying their Municipal ID program by partnering with community members and local advocates to gain sufficient momentum and support. Including endorsers and enticing benefits such as discounts and memberships help cast a wider audience for the program and markets it to non-immigrants as well. To protect against the possibility of applicants’ information falling into the hands of law enforcement agencies or private third parties, many cities have prohibited the retention of application documents altogether, or have established safeguards to limit access to documents that are retained.


Click to review: The Promise of Municipal ID Programs Webinar Powerpoint

Webinar recording:

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