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Municipal ID Card Supporters Make Their Case Before City Council

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The city is moving ahead with the creation of a municipal ID card available to all city residents, regardless of immigration status, which is one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's priority initiatives, but questions remain about cost and just how useful the card will be to average New Yorkers. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

For undocumented immigrants, who can have trouble accessing services or even entering their child's school, a city ID card holds obvious benefits. It's not just immigrants, though. Batya Miller, who has no driver's license, said she couldn't return an item at a clothing store recently despite showing her library card and senior citizen MetroCard.

"They would not refund the credit charge because they did not view either ID I showed them as official," Miller said.

Bryan Ellicott identifies as male, but his driver's license says he's female.

"Going to bars, I get asked if my ID's fake, if I have a twin sister, if it's my mom," he said.

On Wednesday, both testified at a City Council hearing on legislation to create a municipal ID card.

City officials said the card will be designed to deter fraud.

"We would embed a full array of security features into the card, such as holographic laminates, special card stock material and engraved text," said Mindy Tarlow of the Mayor's Office of Operations.

Police Commissioner William Bratton, while not opposed to the card, said the validation process is a concern.

"Is the person, in fact, the person that's identified on whatever card is finally agreed to?" he said.

While officials are hopeful that the card will be accepted in opening bank accounts, initially, there's no plan for a debit function, and no details yet on other benefits.

"Obviously, we would love it to be attached at some point to banking services, have discounts available if you have it," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "So there's different things, but that's through the evolution of it. The implementation is important to set up, and we're working hard to make that happen by the end of the year."

There's also no word on any potential fee. One councilman suggested that a bank partner might defray costs.

"This is going to cost us millions of dollars," said City Councilman Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx. "I could tell you, based on what I've seen in Oakland, minimum, we're going to be spending $50 million."

City officials have so far given no estimate as to the overall cost of the program. In his preliminary budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio did set aside $400,000 for the planning process, a figure that is sure to multiply.

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