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Austin Could Issue Municipal ID Cards

Updated: Thursday, August 7 2014, 06:56 AM CDT
On Thursday morning, an idea to help undocumented immigrants drawing controversy in other cities could take shape in Austin. City Council may vote on whether or not to look into issuing identification cards throughout the city.

San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and several other cities have already launched similar programs. City officials say municipal ID cards could help immigrants overcome barriers to housing, health care, education, and banking. Leaders also say the cards could help solve a public safety issue, as many immigrants are afraid to report crimes because they're afraid of being deported.

However, some critics believe programs like these are the latest efforts to accommodate and encourage illegal immigration. The city argues the cards are open to everyone and could help other vulnerable groups like the homeless get housing and jobs.

Here's the timeline: on Thursday, council could vote on exploring the feasibility of creating the cards. If it goes through, they'd have a final plan by December, and the city could start issuing the cards in 2015.

No word yet on how much the effort would cost. New York City spent $8 million to put together a similar program, though other cities like Oakland have been able to cut down costs by having the municipal ID card double as a bus pass, library card, or pre-paid card.
Austin Could Issue Municipal ID Cards


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