Library cards as ID for illegal immigrants? LA City Council considers proposal


City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is proposing the special library cards, said the ultimate goal is to give the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles better access to the financial system -- a system he says takes advantage of them.

"My primary focus is to address the fact that Los Angeles has 300,000 people that do not have bank accounts and tend to be ripped off in consumer transaction," said Alarcon.

Banks require some form of ID to open an account. Like a similar system in San Francisco and Oakland, the ID would have the user's name, address and photograph on it. The idea is to provide a form of ID to those who cannot get a driver's license or state-issued ID because of their immigration status. The library card could also be used as a pre-paid debit card, but it could not be used to drive, to vote or to provide protection from deportation.

"It's basically for them to be able to open up a bank account. If they have an event where they have to talk to the police, they're able to be identified as such," said immigration attorney Claire Cifuentes.

Opponents say it sets a dangerous precedent.

"We're trying to create the new normal that as long as they're here, we might as well make their lives easier," said Tony Katz with the San Fernando Valley Tea Party.

While some people feel that the city shouldn't get involved in something the federal and state government handles, others say it seems fair.

"I agree with it, because at the same time they're also here illegally but they're working for us at the same time. So I feel like that's the least we can do for them," said Diamond Pate of Los Angeles.

Applicants would have to prove their identity as well as their city residency. The cards would cost $20 to $50 and include a monthly fee of up to $3.

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