Undocumented immigrants get debit-ID cards in Oakland


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law that grants drivers licenses to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.


Stephen Chernin

The city of Oakland has launched a new program that can help undocumented immigrants. Under the program, Oakland now issues combination photo identification and debit cards to any city resident who applies for one, even if that resident came to the United States illegally.

Dr. Paula Cruz-Takash of UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center  told the Huffington Post that Oakland has begun issuing at least 200 cards a day in the already-popular program. She says it appeals to any marginalized group. "The program isn't just for undocumented folks," she told HuffPo. "The aim is to provide identification and banking services to lots of groups who need it."

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In 2007, New Haven became the first US to let illegal immigrants have municipal ID cards, and about a dozen other cities have followed its lead. However, Oakland is the first city where the ID card will double as a debit card,  CBS reported

Why the debit card feature? Because day laborers are known as easy targets for thieves since they tend to carry large amounts of cash around,  NPR reported. "Day laborers most of the time are seen as walking ATMs, because they get robbed on the street," Gabriela Galicia, who works with day laborers at Street Level Health Project, told NPR.