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Immigrant ID Card Will Cost $1 Million This Year To Implement: City Clerk

By Heather Cherone | October 24, 2017 12:00pm
 The card is designed to help undocumented immigrants, homeless residents and ex-felons, officials said.
The card is designed to help undocumented immigrants, homeless residents and ex-felons, officials said.
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Shutterstock; File photos

CITY HALL — The city is set to spend another $1 million to offer Chicago's undocumented immigrants, the homeless and those with a criminal record a municipal identification card.

Once the cards are issued — set to start in December — Chicagoans will be able to use them to ride the CTA and check out books from the Chicago Public Library, City Clerk Anna Valencia told aldermen as she answered questions about her office's $4.2 million 2018 budget.

Anyone who lives in Chicago will be eligible for the new identification card — even if they already have an Illinois identification card or a driver's license, Valencia said. The card is being designed to help seniors, families and young people, she added.

The clerk's office spent $1 million last year to cover the project's startup costs, including hardware and software, Valencia said.

The additional $1 million will be used to implement the project and purchase additional equipment, including a mobile printer to allow the identification cards to be issued at events like senior fairs and back-to-school fairs as well as a marketing push to inform residents about the card, Valencia said.

Officials expect to issue between 115,000 and 175,000 cards to people unable to get another form of governmental identification card, Valencia said.

The cards are designed to bring Chicago's undocumented immigrants, homeless residents and individuals with a criminal record "out of the shadows," Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said.

Ex-felons often lack the documents needed to get state identification.

The cards were given the green light by aldermen in April, despite objections voiced by several African-American aldermen, as well as Far Northwest Side Alds. Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Nicholas Sposato (38th.)

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) — who has long been opposed to the project — said the program was a "horrible idea" and a "waste of money and a waste of resources and waste of effort."

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) questioned whether Valencia really needed to hire two new employees in her office to administer the identification card program.

Ald. Joe Moore, whose 49th Ward has a large number of recent immigrants, said the program was necessary and would cement Chicago's status as a "welcoming city."

Ald. James Cappelman (44th) said there can be an incredible number of "roadblocks" that prevent poor and "disenfranchised" Chicagoans from accessing services.

Valencia told Ervin she was not sure how much the program would cost to administer annually.

The municipal ID cards will be printed on blank Ventra cards, and the city will reimburse the CTA for the costs of the cards, officials said.

Valencia has promised to ensure that the information provided by undocumented immigrants to city officials would not be used by members of President Donald Trump's administration to deport people here without documentation.

The city will not keep applicants' addresses and phone numbers on record nor will they keep copies of any documents, Valencia has said.

City officials are working with attorneys from Kirkland & Ellis, who are donating their time, to determine what documents applicants for the identification card will need to present beyond their names and dates of birth. Officials also have not decided whether there will be a fee for the card, but a measure approved by the City Council in September would allow one to be charged.

Applicants would be able to self-designate their gender in response to concerns from members of the transgender community, and each card would have a unique number as well as security features to prevent fraud, Valencia said.