JANUARY 21, 2009
A major city in a state currently experiencing its worst financial crisis is spending nearly $1 million to give illegal immigrants official photo identification cards so they can access taxpayer-financed government services.
San Francisco started issuing municipal ID cards to illegal immigrants last week and each day hundreds line up at City Hall to get theirs. The card allows illegal immigrants to access an array of city government programs, public health care and libraries. It also permits them to open checking accounts at local banks and get resident discounts at museums and the zoo.
San Francisco is the only major city to offer illegal aliens official identification cards, but not the first. In 2007 New Haven Connecticut began offering similar IDs so that illegal immigrants could enjoy public services and integrate into the community. So far New Haven, which has an estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants, has issued nearly 5,000 cards.
Besides the major cost of providing illegal immigrants with public services, producing the card is also quite expensive. San Francisco’s city administrator said the sophisticated machinery used to create the individual IDs cost $700,000 and staffing an additional $150,000 annually. City officials estimate that about 15,000 cards will be issued in the coming months.
The hefty tab couldn’t come at a worse time. California is dealing with an unprecedented financial crisis—a $42 billion deficit—and the state will be out of money within weeks. Legislators say state workers may have to go without pay, the public school year might be shortened, college students could be stripped of their state scholarships and residents may get IOUs instead of tax refunds.
Yet, somehow, the (not so) Golden State’s famous “City by the Bay” has the cash to help those living in the country illegally.
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