New Haven's Controversial ID Card Program - NBC Connecticut

New Haven's Controversial ID Card Program

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    This is what New Haven residents can get, no matter what their status as a U.S. citizen.

    New Haven Mayor John DeStefano led a group of 50 city residents to an immigration reform rally in Washington, D.C. recently.

    The group headed to the nation's capitol in March, to join tens of thousands in what organizers called "A March for America".

    Participants from all over the country wanted lawmakers and President Obama to move forward with reforms in U.S immigration policies.  One of the more controversial aspects of the reform includes an effort to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

    In 2007, New Haven became the first city in the country to offer ID cards to illegal immigrants, setting off a firestorm of protest.  The cards were offered to New Haven residents regardless of their status as a U.S. citizen. 

    DeStefano introduced the plan as a way to integrate illegals into the community, and offer them a means to have some type of identification that they could use in places such as banks. "We've seen undocumented immigrants and their neighbors become the victims of robbery, assault and in one case even murder because thieves know they often carry large sums of cash in their pockets or store it in their homes," DeStefano said in 2007.  "This is the case because undocumented immigrants do not have the identification information necessary to open bank accounts and thereby safeguard their hard-earned money."

    The Mayor also hoped the ID cards would make undocumented immigrants more willing to report crimes to police.  Often, illegal immigrants won't talk to police about crimes they've witnessed for fear they will be caught and deported.