LA City Council committee OKs ID plan for immigrants


It's the first step in a long process to get identification cards to illegal immigrants and other Los Angeles residents. The city has 90 days to write up a proposal and a plan to implement the proposal.

The City Services Card would serve as a form of identification that Los Angeles' estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants could use to open bank accounts, use as a debit card and access city services. The card would include the user's name, address and photo and would be issued through libraries.

San Francisco has a similar system in place, and many banks and businesses there accept the cards.

Proponents of the City Services Card say giving illegal immigrants access to bank accounts will cut down on pay day lenders gouging undocumented residents with high fees.

"It's about time that we allow folks who have been living in the shadows, who've been considered invisible, who have been walking these streets, but the one thing that does stand out is their dollars," said L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes. "Their dollars seem to be identified. And there are entities in this process that take advantage of that sense of fear, that sense of intimidation and the lack of awareness."

Those who oppose the plan say it sets a bad precedent of accommodating those who are here illegally.

"The laws as written right now mean that these people are in violation of them," said Stephen Kruiser of "You can fight to change the law if you want, but at the moment, you can say undocumented, but they're here illegally. And so we're rewarding people for violating the law."

The proposal is backed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He says it is a step in right direction.

"This is a business where you have to do what you think is right," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Providing people with a debit card, ability to access bank accounts and library services, is good for L.A."

Officials backing the card also say it is for everyone -- seniors, homeless and immigrants who are not documented.

Anyone able to provide proof of residency in Los Angeles would be eligible for a library card. Villaraigosa said the cards would not be a replacement for a California driver's license or identification card.

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