Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration is reviving former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ municipal identification card program aimed at providing unauthorized immigrants with IDs.
Sayegh is seeking the City Council’s authorization to continue the ID program through Jun. 30, 2022. Under the reauthorized program the fee for an initial and replacement card will increase from $10 to $15.
Health director Paul Persaud said the fee increase is needed to pay for the program and deter people from losing their cards and returning for a new one. He said the program was halted in May.
The reauthorized program will be run out of the Human Service Office on Ellison Street rather than the Division of Health on Broadway, said Persaud.
“It was located in the Vital Statistics Department. It should not be in Vital Statistics because that’s an area that has birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates. The public was going in there to get their IDs. The state cautioned us about that,” said Persaud.
The program was started in 2016. Since then, 7,000 ID cards have been issued, said the director. He said this has led to cost increases. For example, the city had to send its ID printing machine for repair that increased the cost for the program.
Some argued against increasing the fee. Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman, wanted the IDs to be issued for free. Hours after the discussion had ended on Tuesday night, Lilisa Mimms, councilwoman at-large, suggested keeping the fee at $10.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, concurred with Mimms.
“Clearly, there’s a cost. Everything costs money. I understand the increase,” said council president Maritza Davila. “I think it’s something needed for our community.”
Updated 8:33 a.m.