Los Angeles City Council members Wednesday gave enthusiastic backing to the creation of a controversial city identification card that could be used by illegal immigrants to open bank accounts.
The photo ID would be available to any resident of the city, regardless of immigration status. Holders could use the card not only as identification but to check out library books, pay bills, make reservations and use city job centers.
The cards would also carry a separate debit card feature that users could pre-load with cash. Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco already have similar cards.
Councilman Ed Reyes called it a way for the city’s poorest workers to “come out into the light.”
While the federal government has failed to pass immigration reform, the city of Los Angeles is able to manage its own affairs, said Councilman Richard Alarcon, who along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a chief sponsor of the card plan.
An ID card that would allow as many as 400,000 residents who now live in a cash economy to access banking services and learn the intricacies of finance is beneficial to everyone, Alarcon said, not just undocumented immigrants, who are expected to be the main benefactors.