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New York City Council votes to make it easier for student asylum seekers to obtain city-issued IDs

New York City students and their classmates would have better access to government-issued ID cards that connect them to services, according to a bill passed by the City Council Thursday.

The legislation would require local high schools to provide teens and young adults who are undocumented immigrants, homeless, or in need of identification cards with applications for IDNYC, a program that allows New Yorkers to navigate city agencies and open accounts banks regardless of their immigration status.

“Too often, we know that our families and students miss out on the amazing resources that New York City has to offer because they just don’t know it,” the bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn) said Thursday. ).

Implemented in 2015, the photo IDs work like a library card and help people apply for jobs and housing, enter municipal buildings and get prescriptions. Cardholders can also access dozens of museums, zoos, and a variety of savings in the city.

An estimated 14,000 children and teens seeking asylum have enrolled in public schools since the summer, part of a large surge in immigrants that Mayor Adams has called an emergency, according to city data.

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“This policy is particularly important for students from underserved communities who may not have access to traditional forms of identification,” Joseph said, “and who may face barriers in accessing the services they need.”

In addition to disseminating applications, school staff are also on the lookout for information on eligibility, documents needed to prove identity and residency, and benefits and discounts.

“We really think it’s crucial,” said Theodore Moore, vice president of policy and programs at the nonprofit New York Immigration Coalition, “not just for everyone because young people need access to identification, but specifically for that newly arrived asylum seekers can apply for social services or just walk into some of these government buildings.”

Last summer, libraries saw an increase in ID requests of asylum seekers eager to obtain proof of identity so they can enter their children’s schools. The legislation will make that process easier and raise awareness, advocates said.

Naveed Hasan, a parent and member of the Educational Policy Panel who for months has been helping connect newcomers at his son’s public school with IDNYC, called the bill a “no-brainer.”

“This bill must be supported by everyone,” Hasan said.

Education officials at a hearing on the bill in January said they “support the goals” of the legislation.

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