By Alice Kenny
Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan submitted testimony yesterday, April 30, 2014, in support of proposed legislation called Intro 253 of 2014 that would provide New Yorkers who lack documentation, including undocumented immigrants, city-issued identification cards.
This ID card would help those who live and work in New York City but are shut out from key City services where ID is required.
Below is Msgr. Sullivan’s testimony:
The Catholic Church has long been in the forefront of immigration reform and services to immigrant communities regardless of one’s place of origin or religious beliefs. This legislation provides a mechanism for inclusion and identity into city life for immigrants as well as other isolated groups.
Catholic Charities is a federation of 90 agencies that:
• Protect and Nurture Children & Youth
• Feed the Hungry and Shelter the Homeless
• Strengthen Families and resolve Crisis
• Support the Physically and Emotionally Challenged, and
• Welcome and Integrate Immigrants and Refugees.
The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, through its many agencies and programs, has worked tirelessly to help refugees fleeing persecution to get protection in the United States and immigrants to reunite with their families legally, obtain proper work authorization, apply for naturalization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass their citizenship exams. We assist more than 100,000 individuals annually. We are privileged to operate the New York State New Americans Hotline which, this year alone, has received close to 25,000 calls in 17 different languages. We recently relocated our major center to downtown New York to provide better access for those from all boroughs.
New York City has a long tradition, like Catholic Charities, of welcoming immigrants and providing access to ensure dignity and justice for the human person. This bill will provide the ability for immigrants, seniors, homeless persons and other marginalized groups to obtain identification cards to access government services and structures. The lives of many will be vastly improved by the acceptance of various and broad forms of proof to establish residency and identity and thereby allow people to obtain identity cards.
We can’t deny the contribution and influence of immigrants to the culture and economy of the City of New York. Establishing a way to access public schools to pick up their children, open bank accounts, get library cards, cash checks and even enter a public building are just some of the ways that this municipal identification card can ensure that we continue on the path toward full civic participation for all New Yorkers, regardless of status.
We urge the speedy passage of this legislation and, again, congratulate the bill’s sponsor, the Chair of the Immigration Committee, the Speaker and the other members of the City council for the introduction and support of this crucial measure. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.
For the inside scoop on the potential backlash or embrace of municipal ID cards Msgr. Sullivan interviewed John DeStefano the former Mayor of New Haven, CT in this recent episode of JustLove radio. New Haven, a city of about 130,000, pioneered municipal ID cards without regard to legal status in 2007.
JustLove airs weekly on Saturday at 10am EST on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129.