LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles City Councilman Tuesday defended a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to use city-issued library cards as official identification, and even as debit cards.
The proposal from Councilman Richard Alcaron would provide as many as 300,000 Angelenos who do not have bank accounts or debit cards with access to a city-contracted private vendor to set up bank accounts for people who want to use the library card as a debit card.
Only applicants with proof of residency would be eligible for the program, according to Alarcon.
Alarcon told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he rejects allegations from critics who fear the card could be exploited to promote illegal immigration and said libraries are the perfect way to increase residents’ financial literacy.
“This purpose of this card is to address critical issues of financial literacy that we have in the city of Los Angeles, where consumers are faced with contracts that are typically written at a master’s degree level,” said Alarcon. “I think that our library system is in a great position to use modern technology to develop programs to help our people get better education about financial literacy.”
San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond have already adopted laws establishing similar ID cards, which would not be a substitute for driver’s licenses and would not provide any protection from deportation.
Alarcon said libraries would be specifically useful in educating those residents who do not have a bank account with money management strategies and financial literacy.
“I think the libraries have a responsibility to develop programs that assist our communities in literacy efforts, and in this case, I think we’re falling far below what a normal standard should be…relative to financial literacy,” said Alarcon.
“If they are trusting payday lenders in local communities and getting ripped off left and right, I believe that we need to upgrade them to use our regular banking system, and maybe they’ll have more trust through the libraries,” he added.
Alarcon’s motion is currently being reviewed by members of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee.