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Oakland Touts New ID Cards For Undocumented Residents As Crime Fighting Tool

OAKLAND (CBS SF) - When Oakland begins issuing municipal identification cards on Feb. 1 it will help residents without legal immigration status and also help fight crime, Mayor Jean Quan and Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said Wednesday.

Quan said Oakland has been working on developing a municipal ID card for several years but it took time to complete the process because it will be the first city to have such a card double as a debit card for those who want that feature.

Quan said she doesn't expect Oakland to face any legal problems from issuing such cards because they've already been rolled out in about a dozen other cities in the U.S., beginning with New Haven, Conn., in 2007.

Quan said longtime Oakland residents who are undocumented immigrants "live in constant fear" of being deported because they don't have valid identification cards.

De La Fuente, who has represented Oakland's heavily-Hispanic Fruitvale District for 20 years but is leaving office next week, said many immigrants are afraid to report being victims of crime or being witnesses of crimes because they lack identification cards.

"It's no secret that day laborers who earn cash have been targeted for robberies because criminals know they are reluctant to report crimes to the police," De La Fuente said.

He said there also are murder cases that remain unsolved because witnesses who are undocumented immigrants are afraid to talk to the police.

Arturo Sanchez, the deputy city administrator who oversees the program, said the city won't pay any extra money to issue the cards because fees are expected to defray all costs.

He said the cards will cost $15 for most residents and be $10 for seniors and minors.

Quan said any city resident who wants a municipal ID card can get one, not just undocumented immigrants.

Sanchez said, "They're designed for all residents of Oakland and we hope they will foster civic pride."

He said that in order to get the ID cards people must provide a photo and proof that they're an Oakland resident with a document such as a utility bill.

Although people can use the ID cards as debit cards, they can choose not to use that option, Sanchez said.


(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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