While local governments work to curb the ravaging effect of illegal immigration, a major U.S. city is helping its undocumented aliens by creating an alternative banking system and giving them official government identification cards.
The northern California city of Oakland will join a few other municipalities across the U.S. that give illegal immigrants official ID cards, but this one will be extra special. To prevent the municipal ID from singling out illegal immigrants like a scarlet letter, it will also double as a full-service debit card.
The innovative debit/ID cards will function in a newly created alternative banking system that allows illegal immigrants to load up to $1,000 at a time at participating outlets and unlimited amounts via payroll direct deposit. This will free illegal aliens from the vulnerability of carrying lots of money or relying on shady check-cashing businesses, say Oakland lawmakers.
The councilwoman behind the effort proudly predicts that it will be the most advanced municipal ID in the country. The Oakland City Council actually approved the illegal immigrant ID measure last year, but officials took the time to develop a unique card that wasn't just another way of identifying people who don't have documentation.
Many of the city's 400,000 residents showed their support at the City Council meeting in which the bill was approved by proudly displaying signs reading No Human Being is Illegal and ID cards for all Oaklanders. The councilwoman who introduced the measure, which was overwhelmingly approved, said Oakland is proud that it has always been a gateway city for immigrants.
A few miles across the bay, San Francisco began giving illegal immigrants official photo ID cards last year so they can access taxpayer-financed services. New Haven, Connecticut started the trend a few years ago, becoming the first to offer illegal aliens ID cards so that they could enjoy public services and integrate into the community.
Card holders will be able to load money onto their cards, freeing them from the vulnerability of walking around with cash or relying on costly check-cashing outlets.