Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has presented a plan that could give millions of immigrants access to banking services. The mayor’s proposal would have Los Angeles create an official city photo identification card for immigrants that could also be used as a prepaid ATM card for their private bank account.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says his plan is similar to programs in San Francisco and Oakland, where ID cards are issued to anyone who can prove residency, regardless of immigration status. “It will be an official ID,” Villaraigosa told the newspaper. “It will be as strong an effort as San Francisco’s.” The plan would benefit an estimated 4.3 million immigrants that live in LA.
Supporters say helping immigrants open bank accounts could reduce crime because fewer people would have to carry cash. An official city ID would also make it easier for many residents to obtain city services and identify themselves to law enforcement officials, they argue.
A City Council committee will discuss the ID card proposal on Tuesday, the Times said. Card applicants would have to meet “strict” criteria, the mayor’s office told the newspaper. The card, which officials say would look like a student ID, would include a photo, street address, date of birth, hair and eye color, height and weight. Law enforcement agencies could choose whether to recognize the card, and it would not substitute for a driver’s license, the mayor’s office said.
Thousands of poor and elderly legal residents who don’t have a driver’s license or other identification would benefit from the program, according to the mayor’s office.