On Monday, January 12th, New York City launched IDNYC, the nation’s largest municipal ID program, to unprecedented demand. Thousands of New Yorkers lined up at 17 permanent enrollment centers across the five boroughs to get the Muni ID which offers several benefits to its holder, regardless of his or her immigration status.
“We are receiving an overwhelming response,” one city official told ViewsWeek. “People have been lining up at the enrollment centers as early as 3.00 a.m. to get their ID,” added the official at the Mayor’s Press Office. It was due to the long lines in biting cold that compelled the City to start a prior appointment system.
Director of Operations Mindy Tarlow, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks announced on Jan 13 the activation of the planned response to handle high demand for the IDNYC. The City switched to an appointment-based system to increase ease of access for applicants on Wednesday, January 14.
“In building the program, we gave ourselves the option to switch to an appointment-based system, should demand be higher than anticipated,” a press release quoted Director of Operations Mindy Tarlow as saying. “It is our commitment that every New Yorker be served in a timely manner.”
“We are delighted to see such an incredible response to the launch of the IDNYC program,” the press release quoted Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal as saying. “The demand says to us that New Yorkers all across the five boroughs are eager to get their card. Now, with the appointment system, we will ensure that it is even easier than before to sign up for IDNYC.”
“The strong demand for IDNYC shows just how important this is to thousands of New Yorkers,” said HRA Commissioner Steven Banks. “We are committed to providing excellent customer service, no matter how many New Yorkers apply for the card. We are assigning extra volunteer staff with tablets to help make the process easier. We do ask for patience, given the huge volume of applications.”
New Yorkers can make an appointment at the closest enrollment center by going online to www.nyc.gov/IDNYC or calling 311. IDNYC staff at enrollment sites will help walk-ins to schedule appointments. There is no deadline to apply for the card, and the City will protect the confidentiality of all IDNYC card applications.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito launched the IDNYC municipal identification program. The Mayor also announced that the IDNYC card will be accepted as valid primary identification for opening a bank or credit union account at more than 10 financial institutions, and revealed the card’s full suite of benefits.
“IDNYC is not only a card for all New Yorkers, it is the gateway to City services, the key to opening a bank account or getting a library card, and the ticket to many of our city’s finest cultural institutions. More than that, this card represents who we are: New Yorkers who value equality, opportunity and diversity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and our partners in the Council for their tremendous work and collaboration on this program. Today, we are launching the most ambitious, dynamic and useful municipal ID program in the country, which will have a real and tangible impact on the lives of all New Yorkers.”
“Time and again, New York City has shown that we are not afraid to lead,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “In launching the IDNYC program, we are living up to our highest ideals about who we are as a city. I’m proud of my colleagues and bill sponsors Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca and Council Member Daniel Dromm for their support in this process and thank the de Blasio administration for its partnership in making IDNYC a reality for all New Yorkers.”
The IDNYC is a signature program of Mayor Bill de Blasio and is aimed at giving ID to every New Yorker irrespective of his or her status. It has generated a lot of enthusiasm in the communities across the five boroughs.
“IDNYC is the largest municipal ID program in any city in the country, and for this we should be proud,” a press release quoted Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, as saying. “This program will support up to 8 million New Yorkers – a massive undertaking – and the benefits for our city’s communities are enormous. In the first few days of any new program, bumps in the road are inevitable. We are confident that the City will listen to feedback, implement necessary changes, and the program will only be made stronger. We look forward to continuing to work with the City and all of our partners to ensure that as many New Yorkers as possible obtain this ID.”
Guadalupe Paleta, an undocumented Make the Road New York member from Queens who signed up for an appointment to receive the ID later in the month, said, “I signed up for an appointment later this month to get my IDNYC. After years undocumented here with no valid ID, I’m happy that the City is offering me the chance to get one. I feel the lack of an ID every day, and this will make me feel more at home. There are thousands of people like me in the City, and we all have to go through the processing centers. I’ll probably have my ID in less than a month. It’s not too long to wait for a benefit that matters.”
“The indignation and outcry about start-up glitches coming from sectors that never supported the IDNYC should be taken with a grain of salt,” said Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Immigrant families have endured the ugliest shortcomings our nation has to offer, and our outrage should be directed where it belongs: at our broken immigration system. We are encouraged and moved by the sight of immigrant families waiting for IDNYC. It validates the importance of proactive municipal policy that facilitates immigrant inclusion. It is a shame to use this historic development as an opportunity to score cheap political points.”
Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuente, said, “We have seen first-hand the response by fellow New Yorkers and we are amazed by the turnout thus far. The enthusiasm for obtaining the ID is indicative of the need for its existence and we applaud the city for taking on this massive endeavor. We welcome the opportunity to continue to assist the city in ensuring this program is a success!”
“The enthusiastic response to the IDNYC is a reflection of the City’s commitment to ensure that it is widely accessible to all New Yorkers,” said Alisa Wellek, co-executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “We look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure the IDNYC facilitates equal protections for all New Yorkers”.
“ID NYC is a groundbreaking program that has received an overwhelming positive response by all New Yorkers and can serve as a national model,” said José Calderón, president of the Hispanic Federation. “Latinos, immigrants and all New Yorkers can benefit from this smart initiative that provides economic opportunities while fostering a sense of inclusion for all who call this great city home.”
“We support and applaud the City’s commitment to enhancing the lives of all New Yorkers. The new ID system – the largest such program in the country, is off to a good start,” Irina Matiychenko, New York Legal Assistance Group. “The high demand so early in its rollout demonstrates just how eager vulnerable and marginalized New Yorkers are to participate more openly in the life of their City.”
“The municipal ID program is a great move for our city,” said Rev. Susan Karlson, co-chair of New Sanctuary Coalition NYC. “Our members and congregations regardless of their status, citizens and non-citizens alike are excited to apply for this identification. We are all proud of the city that initiated this very valuable program. The long lines are reflective of the great need for immigrants, the homeless and all of us. We in the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC heartily endorse IDNYC. They offer critical benefits for everyone.”
“There is a lot of excitement around IDNYC because there is a strong demand for identification and access to the card’s other benefits. We are impressed by our community’s enthusiasm towards IDNYC as it validates the need for a municipal identification program. This is the largest program of its kind, aiming to serve all 8 million New Yorkers, and our organization will continue to support the city in this endeavor.” said Grace Shim, executive director of MinKwon Center for Community Action.
“We’re thrilled that IDNYC has launched and that New Yorkers have responded so enthusiastically,” said Deyanira Del Rio, co-director of New Economy Project. “The initiative will go far toward advancing social and economic inclusion, particularly for immigrant, homeless and very low income New Yorkers who will benefit most from gaining access to vital, free government-issued ID.”
“People of Faith across New York City are excited about the opportunity a New York City Municipal ID will allow ALL New Yorkers to more fully access social and cultural services in New York. We applaud our elected officials for taking this important step and we are confident that with the support of the community the ID will be a success,” Oneleilove Alston, interim executive director, Faith in New York.
Press releases issued by New York Immigration Coalition, and the mayor’s office contributed to this report.