Oakland First to Offer Residents ID/Bank Cards

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Thursday, Oct 4, 2012  |  Updated 6:53 AM CDT
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Oakland will be the first city in the nation to offer the combination ID/bank cards.

Oakland will be the first city in the nation to offer the combination ID/bank cards.

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Oakland will become the first city in the nation to offer combination government ID's and bank cards to its residents.

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to give the go-ahead on the plan. The final vote is scheduled for Oct. 16.

These ID cards, which have a banking component, are aimed at granting cardholders access to city services, regardless of federal or green card status. They will also allow card holders to open bank accounts, which is especially important to people who are undocumented and who typically use check cashing agencies that charge higher interest fees.

Cards will eventually be issued at approved locations, which haven't yet been determined.

The card will roll out in 60 to 90 days, and will cost $10 for minors and senior citizens. It will be $15 for adults. Original estimates projected that 30,000 cards would be issued in the first year, and are not expected to either cost the city any money or add to the city coffers.

All Oakland residents will be eligible for a card after they present proof of identity and proof of residence. Foreigners could present either a passport or a consulate ID.

Oakland police also will accept these cards as valid forms of identification.

"We think these cards will really help in terms of public safety," said Claudia Burgos, an aide to Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who has been pitching this idea with now Mayor Jean Quan since 2009. "A lot of people don't want to talk to police because they don't have ID. This will change that."

In addition to the police component and being able to bank at mainstream institutions, other community leaders had rallied for this issue as one of human rights, allowing undocumented immigrants a way to prove their identity and become more engaged in civic life. Detractors have long said the cards will increase illegal immigration.

The contract for the debit-cards is between the University National Bank of St. Paul, Minn., and SF Global Group of Venice, Los Angeles County, which are responsible for the card's operations.

Based on Oakland's plan, the nearby East Bay city of Richmond began the process last summer of also trying to grant municipal ID cards. In 2007, San Francisco issued city ID cards, but it is considered a county, not a city, and there is no debit card function to the identification. New Haven, Conn., was the first city in the country to adopt a municipal card, but it also did not have the banking component.

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