Identification Cards Proposed for Undocumented Workers In Los Angeles

By November 15, 2012Immigration Policy

In Los Angeles, a city council committee is considering a plan pushed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to require photo-identification cards for immigrants. Villaraigosa says that the cards are official IDs for those who want to use banking services.

Those critical of the proposal, including the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, say that the IDs are part of a plan to make it easier for undocumented immigrants to live and work in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Mayor Villaraigosa has stated that the concept for the cards was to deter crime, as more people can use banking services and not have to worry about being robbed of large sums of cash.
Another proposal which was dismissed was the creation of a new type of library card that doubled as a debit card. There are currently an estimated 4.3 million immigrants in Los Angeles, and the proposal to add LA, the nation’s second-largest city, to the roster of those offering official IDs has only intensified the debate over what role a local government can play when dealing with illegal immigrants.

Issuing identification cards is a way to allow residents to be more fully integrated into their communities; the cards are the latest move by the city to update how police offers and others manage legal issues regarding undocumented workers. This past February, officers of the Los Angeles Police department were issued new guidelines that allowed greater discretion when faced with the decision to impound cars of unlicensed drivers, or not. In September, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck decided that the undocumented immigrants who were arrested each year in the city for low-level crimes would not continue to be turned over to the federal authorities to be deported.

The supporters of the new city ID card have stated that the move is simply a practical attempt to reduce crime and allow residents less vulnerable and more incorporated in their communities while balancing federal immigration laws. Anyone with an official ID can open a bank account and obtain city services such as libraries and enroll in public school.

Critics claim that the ID program should be something dealt with on the federal level, not by state or city. Other cities on the West Coast, including Oakland and San Francisco, currently issue identification cards to residents who show proof of residency, regardless of their immigration status.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at