LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Library cards in the city of Los Angeles could soon double as official documentation for undocumented residents.
Members of the L.A. City Council said they are reviewing the plan, amid protests that it would encourage illegal immigration.
“We’re all immigrants from another country. But, however, it is giving them the opportunities that even some Americans don’t have, so…that’s kind of controversial,” West Hills resident Melanie Levine said.
The proposed card would include a name, photo and address.
Officials said the card would help approximately 300,000 L.A. residents who don’t have bank accounts or debit cards. The city would work with a private vendor to set up bank accounts for people who want to use the library card as a debit card.
Oakland and San Francisco have already implemented the library card plan.
“As long as it helps them integrate into society in a legal way, and is a program and method to help them become legal, then, that’s fine,” said North Hollywood resident David Goes, adding, “But, if it’s to have them get in the door and slide under, without a lot of responsibility…you can’t have liberty without responsibility, and that’s the issue.”
Councilman Richard Alarcon proposed the idea, saying it would promote financial literacy among immigrants. He also said the card would stop scams and robberies among his constituents who don’t use banks.
People could apply for the card as long as they have proof of L.A. residency, Alarcon said.
Some opponents said that the card could be exploited and that it promotes illegal immigration.
Councilman Tom LaBonge said the idea is in its early stages and that the City Council is still evaluating the plan. He said he hopes that whatever the council decides is in the right direction for all of Los Angeles.