The city of Hartford plans to introduce municipal identification cards to give undocumented immigrants, the homeless and other residents easier access to city services.
Mayor Pedro Segarra said that any Hartford resident could apply for the ID card, regardless of citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation or arrest record, reported the Hartford Courant.
"The goal is to diminish the barriers that many encounter when trying to get basic needs," such as the ability to open a bank account, seek employment or apply for housing and health initiatives, Segarra said.
Segarra estimated that as many as 20,000 undocumented immigrants live in Hartford, said the Hartford Courant. The city also has the state's largest prison re-entry population, he said, and more than 3,000 homeless people are living in shelters or on city streets during the course of a year.
The cards would include a resident's name, date of birth, photo and address, with the option of being used as a debit card. All city agencies and employees, including Hartford police officers, would have to accept the Hartford city ID as proof of identity and residency, the Courant report said. It could also be used to borrow library books, or enroll in the city's English language classes and skills programs.
Hartford's initiative, self-funded through application fees, is modeled in part after New Haven's municipal ID program, the first of its kind in the country when it was rolled out in 2007 as both a practical and symbolic gesture to the city's immigrants, many of whom lived in fear without official identification that tied them to their new home, the Courant said.
Among the cities that have adopted similar programs are San Francisco; Oakland; Richmond, Calif.; Los Angeles; New York City; and Washington, D.C.