CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio) — The city has unveiled its new “CityKey” municipal identification card, designed to help undocumented immigrants, but the full launch of the program has been delayed a few months while officials test it out.
The municipal ID card program was billed as something to provide identification to undocumented immigrants, the homeless, ex-inmates, and others who can’t get state IDs; but it will be available to anyone.
Frances Velez, a domestic violence victim with the advocacy group Mujeres Latinas En Accion, said the card can help people like her who might leave everything behind to escape an abusive relationship.
“When I was going through domestic violence, I couldn’t even get back into my home, because if I did, I’d have to stay there. Now, because of this ID, it’s going to benefit so many women out there, so many victims out there, that they don’t have to go back to their abuser,” she said.
The basic fee for the CityKey will be $10, but will be $5 for those under age 18, and will be free for veterans, low-income and homeless Chicagoans, domestic violence victims, people 65 and older, and those enrolled in the One Summer Chicago jobs program.
City officials originally planned to begin distributing the municipal ID cards by the end of this year, but it won’t launch citywide until March. First, the city will test the cards with several community groups.
Critics have said the state already offers identification cards to the public, and the city’s municipal ID isn’t necessary or desirable.
However, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) pointed out the CityKey card also serves as a Ventra transit card, and a library card, and will offer discounts at museums and other cultural institutions.
“I think the connection between this ID and the CTA and the library, I think there’s a lot of innovation that really the state ID doesn’t have,” Solis said.
But Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said he doubts the card will be sought out by undocumented immigrants, or ex-offenders.
“I don’t think you’re going to have the amount of people that signs up for this, because the people that are in the shadows that they are trying to bring out of the shadows are not going to come out for a glorified library card,” he said.
City officials have said personal information required to obtain a municipal ID will not be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and that the city will only retain the name and date of birth of each applicant. The city also has said it will not ask applicants about their immigration status.