Mayor Proposes Municipal ID for Residents, Regardless of Immigration Status or Gender

The city expects to issue its first municipal ID before the end of 2017

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a new proposal at Wednesday’s City Council meeting aiming to create a municipal ID program for Chicago residents, no matter their immigration status.

The ID cards, which would also improve access to identification cards for transgender and gender non-conforming residents, would be accepted by all city departments as proof of identification.

Those applying for the ID would not be asked about their immigration status and would be allowed to “self-attest their gender.”

“Chicago is and has been a City that welcomes everyone, and an individual’s background should never be a barrier to participating in the economic, social, or cultural life of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “With this program, we ensure that all Chicago residents have the identification they need to access vital services.”

The IDs would provide cardholders with access to city services, cultural institutions, city programs and other benefits, according to the mayor’s office.

The proposal was backed by Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, who joined Emanuel in introducing it at City Council and whose office would be in charge of administering the program.

The program would also have options for survivors of domestic violence, designating an alternative address and offering an option for the homeless to obtain an ID without a fixed address.

“At a time when many communities are experiencing setbacks or attacks on their rights, the Chicago Municipal ID program is an initiative where cities can lead by example in reducing barriers, increasing access to opportunities, and empowering residents.” Valencia said in a statement. “Our City is stronger when all communities are participating, and we will continue to explore partnerships that will enable all Chicagoans to take advantage of everything this city has to offer.”

In order to implement the program, Emanuel pledged $1 million from his 2017 budget.

The proposal had garnered support from a number of area aldermen, including Ald. Walter Burnett, Ald. Daniel Soli and Ald. Ameya Pawar.

Still, questions remain surrounding the program, including what happens to the information required to apply. The proposal does note that the city will not retain copies of an applicant’s personal information.

The city expects to issue its first municipal ID before the end of 2017.

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