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Austin Could Issue Municipal ID Cards To Undocumented Immigrants

Updated: Monday, July 7 2014, 06:31 PM CDT

Austin could be the next city to issue municipal identification cards to thousands of undocumented immigrants. Places like San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City have approved similar programs. It doesn't mean this would be a pathway to citizenship, but rather allow those undocumented to prove who they are.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole is sponsoring the resolution that will go before council August 7.

She says 20 percent of the population in the city is from a foreign country. 

Jose Cruz-Martinez came over from Guanajuato, Mexico almost two decades ago.

"It's really hard to find a good job," said Cruz.

His reason for coming to the U.S. is opportunity. "I'm doing construction," he said.

But Cruz like many others finds it hard to live without a formal identification card.

They are challenged with opening up a bank account, leasing an apartment, using public transportation or simply reporting a crime.

"It's going to be hard for you to say, you aren't doing anything wrong. You are just here for work," said Cruz.

Although he has a Mexican consulate ID, Cruz still fears he can't pick up his two children from school.

"Sometimes when I go to the cafeteria they ask for an ID," he said.

Stories like that are why Cole says she is pushing a measure to look into city service cards.

New York City's program cost $8 million. At this point she does not know what is would cost for Austin.

"There are many cities who have implemented this program. Oakland comes to mind. Some of them have been able to do it as a cost reduced basis by consolidating the services they offer such as library services, bus services or stored value on the card," said Cole.

But critics like the Federation for American Immigration Reform believe:

"This is the latest effort to accommodate and encourage illegal immigration when options like green cards, visas and drivers licenses are already available."

If passed Cole said the program would be open to all Austinites, not just undocumented immigrants.

By Christie Post

Austin Could Issue Municipal ID Cards To Undocumented Immigrants

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