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Campaign Updates

09/19/2014 | Organizing the America is Home Campaign
Published By:Media Matters for America

Fox Host Falsely Claims New York's Municipal ID Program Will Give Undocumented Immigrants Voting Rights

Media Matters - September 19, 2014, by Cal Colgan - Fox News co-host Steve Doocy claimed New York City's new law allowing municipal identifications to all city residents will allow undocumented immigrants to vote in state and local elections. But New York City's election law clearly stipulates that only U.S. citizens can vote, and experts explain that the municipal IDs provide much-needed services the city's residents.

New York City Mayor Announces Municipal IDs Will Give Free One-Year Access To New York Cultural Institutions

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio Announces Municipal ID Will Give Free One-Year Access To City's Cultural Institutions. On September 19, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that residents who register for the city's municipal identification cards in January 2015 will receive free admission to the city's top cultural institutions for one year:

"The municipal ID is a powerful tool to bring more New Yorkers out of the shadows and into the mainstream. It is now also a key that opens the door for hundreds of thousands of more New Yorkers to our City's premier assets in culture, science and entertainment," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The Municipal ID Card embodies the values we cherish most about inclusivity and equality, and these memberships are another step forward on providing greater access and opportunity for our people."  [NYC.gov, 9/18/14]

Fox Host Claims Municipal ID Program Will Give Undocumented Immigrants Voting Rights

Fox's Steve Doocy: Undocumented Immigrants Could Use ID Cards To Vote In Local And State Elections. In a September 19 segment highlighting de Blasio's municipal ID program, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that New York City's new municipal ID program will allow undocumented immigrants to vote in local and state elections:

DOOCY: Mayor de Blasio here in New York City ran on making sure that people in this country illegally who make New York City their home could get an I.D. card that they could use to, among other things, vote in local and state electionsWell, now, to try to get as many people as possible to get these cards, these New York City municipal I.D. cards, what they're doing is they're going to have incentives. Go ahead, get a membership for one year to 33 of the city's signature cultural institutions, like the Bronx Zoo, the Met, Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall. [Fox News, Fox & Friends9/19/14]

New York City's Election Laws Prohibit Non-Citizens From Voting

New York City Board Of Elections: Only US Citizens Can Register To Vote. According to New York City's Board of Elections, only U.S. citizens are eligible to register to vote in the city (emphasis added):

 To register to vote in the City of New York, you must:

1.     Be a citizen of the United States (Includes those persons born in Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

2.     Be a New York City resident for at least 30 days.

3.     Be 18 years of age before the next election.

4.     Not be serving a jail sentence or be on parole for a felony conviction.

5.     Not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court.

6.     Not claim the right to vote elsewhere (outside the City of New York). [Board of Elections in The City of New York, accessed 9/19/14]

Municipal IDs Provide Much-Needed Services For Undocumented Immigrants

Center For Popular Democracy: Municipal IDs Improve Undocumented Immigrants' Access To Community Services And Increase Community Participation. In a 2013 report on municipal ID programs, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) explained that the "ability to provide proof of identity is a basic necessity" that affects "almost every aspect of daily life." According to CPD, having access to identification cards improves overall community safety by giving undocumented residents better access to local authorities, allows cardholders access to "basic services" like cashing checks and seeing a doctor, and decreases problems of racial profiling. CPD explained the goals of municipal IDs in their report:

  • Improve community safety by making it easier for those without state-issued ID to interact with local authorities.
  • Improve access to financial services by providing a form of ID that will allow those without other forms of identification to open bank accounts.
  • Mitigate impact of racial profiling.
  • Make symbolic statement of welcome and solidarity to immigrant residents.
  • Promote unity and sense of membership in the local community among all residents. [Center for Popular Democracy, December 2013]

Catholic Legal Immigration Network: "Offering Municipal ID Cards To All City Residents Is Fundamentally Fair." In an April 14 memo, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) asserted that cities throughout the US should issue municipal ID cards to all residents and that doing so would allow marginalized residents access to basic necessities like community safety, housing, health care at local clinics, and financial services:

  • All residents deserve the right to be identified.  The ability to prove one's identity is a fundamental human right - not a privilege.
  • Municipal ID cards allow all residents the opportunity to participate more fully in the economy and meet their basic needs such as buying groceries. Paying for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card often requires an ID.
  • Identification will enable card holders to access services essential to their families such as renting apartments, obtaining utilities, accessing health clinics, filling prescriptions, acquiring insurance, and picking up their children at school.
  • Enabling individuals to open bank accounts so that they don't have to carry their savings protects them from theft.  Access to banking services allows people to save to support their families and to participate more easily in the economy.

[...]

  • The ability to prove one's identity increases the likelihood that an individual will report a crime and file a police report. In particular, those without immigration status will be less fearful of detention and deportation.
  • Law enforcement will spend less time and fewer resources identifying individuals when all residents are eligible for municipal ID cards. Police will be able to focus on protecting the public.
  • When all city residents can prove their identity, city employees such as firefighters and EMTs can better serve everyone.  [Catholic Legal Immigration Network, April 2014]

CNN: San Francisco Implemented Municipal ID Program To Address Public Safety Concerns For Immigrants. On February 24, CNN reported that San Francisco city officials implemented a municipal ID program to address the "serious public safety problem" that occurs when immigrant victims are unable to report crime to local police:

"Residents without access to bank accounts often carry large amounts of money on them or store it in their homes, making them targets for crime. And, those who can't produce proof of identity are often reluctant to report crimes to the police," said Megan A. Caygill-Wallach of the San Francisco city administrator's budget and planning office.

Although immigrants are victimized by crime at rates similar to or greater than the general population, they report crime at lower rates, according to studies. The underreporting of crime poses a serious public safety problem and erodes the ability of law enforcement to function effectively in the city. [CNN, 2/24/14

Other Marginalized Residents Also Benefit From Municipal IDs 

Catholic Legal Immigration Network: Municipal IDs Help Other "Vulnerable Residents" Like The Elderly. In its 2014 memo, CLINIC argued that municipal IDs also help the elderly, low-income residents, the homeless and the recently incarcerated:

  • Municipal ID cards will help our most vulnerable residents, including undocumented immigrants, victims of domestic violence or natural disaster, the homeless, low-income senior citizens, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • The ability to prove one's identity fosters a sense of pride, belonging, and shared community and facilitates integration and participation in civic life.
  • When residents can access the services necessary to take care of themselves and their families, communities become socially and economically stronger. [CLINIC, 4/2014]

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