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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Saturday, February 06, 2016


The ID NYC program was designed to provide government-issued photo IDs to people who desperately need government identification but have had difficulty getting it -- undocumented immigrants, primarily, but also homeless folks, formerly incarcerated people, teenagers and older adults. But as a result of the sweeteners offered with the card -- free membership to museums, zoos and botanical gardens, and discounted memberships to city recreation centers and YMCAs -- it has also emerged as a hipster cultural credential.
I'm a resident of NYC, but don't often take advantage of many of its resources, though basic things like stores, transportation (especially ready train/bus service), population diversity and multiple libraries in walking distance underlines the value of living here.  Have gone to various of the main places at least once (e.g, regularly pass the Bronx Zoo, have gone there but not for a long time), so not a total culturally illiterate or anything.

There are a lot more things I can do though and often for low prices. My new NYC ID will provide me more chances to do them, since one perk are annual memberships to a range of places.  To take a for instance, I can now go to limited rehearsals at the NY ballet (how does one dress to go to such a thing?), go to various museums for free (one can now, but various ones have an entry fee) and get various discounts to other things.  Not that I do it these days, but the card can be used as library card at each borough (three of them are hooked up to the NYPL, but Queens and Brooklyn are separate and my cards to the latter are surely out of date now).  Might actually go to some of these places more if it only is a matter of carfare.

The basic value of the card is free identification, including for those who otherwise would not be able to obtain it. For instance, there are special rules for the homeless, including those a victim of domestic violence. I have a driver's license, but it surely wasn't free, and it takes more things from what I recall to obtain.  And, all it took was a trip to the main Bronx library though there were various other places I could have went.  The card also has an "in case of emergency" feature.  It is not:
The IDNYC card does not authorize cardholders to drive or provide proof of identity to obtain a driver's license. The card also does not authorize cardholders to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, receive public assistance benefits, or travel on an airplane. The IDNYC does not confer immigration status or provide work authorization.
I take it that such things are state requirements and this is geared to city residents; it therefore can be used by non-citizens though you have to prove identity and residency.  Then again "public assistance benefits" seems fairly general. Anyway, it's very useful, especially since it can be used if the police asks for id or to entry city buildings or to open a bank account.  OTOH, to show how voting id laws are different, the things not covered underline how people with id that can be used for everyday things might not be enough.  Nonetheless, it is a useful device.  

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