More cities across New York are looking for ways to provide services and keep track of immigrants.
On Tuesday, Kingston’s City Council passed legislation that would allow for anyone over the age of 10, including the homeless, elderly and even immigrants, to apply for a municipal identification card.
This card has many uses and can be used for senior citizens to access cheaper city services, and also by immigrants during interactions with law enforcement or to access health care.
“At some point they are going to show up in the emergency room, they’re going to show up in the hospital, someone is going to pick up the cost but let’s make sure they are counted properly to be a part of our census because that determines the funding our state receives to provide services,” Assemblyman John McDonald (D-Cohoes) said.
Assemblyman McDonald points out, that people still use the hospital, regardless of immigration status. but allowing them to be accounted for can help later for state and local budgets.
“Municipal governments have to provide services to these residents, they don’t have a choice.”
Right now, besides Kingston, three other communities offer the municipal identification program: New York City, Poughkeepsie, and Middletown. Soon, this could be a statewide issue.
Earlier this year, there was a push to allow for immigrants to be able to apply for drivers licenses. Critics of the bill were worried that this would give people a backdoor to immigration. However, others argue that this just gave immigrants access to basic services.
“Literally just trying to do what’s right. Go to church, go to the doctor, go to school, go to work. And people are denying them that access,” Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo) said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has voiced his support in the past of allowing immigrants to apply for drivers licenses. This will most likely be an issue brought forward again this next legislative year.