- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Backers of a proposed New York City municipal ID card said Wednesday that the card would help immigrants, non-drivers and others who may have difficulty obtaining government-issued identification.

“For me, this ID will change my life,” said Esther Sanchez, who said she has three autistic children and has had difficulty picking them up at school because she doesn’t have an identification card that school officials will accept.

Wednesday’s hearing before the immigration committee of the City Council was the first legislative step in the city’s drive to introduce the card, which Mayor Bill de Blasio supports.

City officials hope to have the program in place by the end of the year.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the city will spread the word about the ID card and try to make it attractive to all New Yorkers by linking it to discounts at museums or businesses.

“This has benefits across the board,” Mark-Viverito said. “It’s really an exciting moment.”

Transgender activist Bryan Ellicott said the city-issued ID card would allow transgender people to be identified by their gender of choice even if they have not had gender reassignment surgery.

“The idea that New York City will allow me to decide that my true and proper gender identity will be displayed on this piece of identification is something I could not be more excited about,” Ellicott said.

Batya Miller, a member of a community group called Manhattan Together, said she’ll use the card because, like many New Yorkers, she has no driver’s license.

Miller said she recently tried to return an item at a clothing store and could not because the store wouldn’t accept any identification she carried.

“As a non-driver, I really look forward to receiving a New York City ID,” she said.

Other cities including New Haven, Conn., and San Francisco already issue municipal ID cards.

Eric Mar, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, testified by telephone that fears of fraud associated with the card have been unfounded.

“There’ve been no incidents of fraud reported in San Francisco,” Mar said.

Mar said about 20,000 San Franciscans out of the city’s population of 800,000 have received the ID cards since the city started issuing them in 2009.

He said an anti-immigrant political climate might have kept some people from applying for them.

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