Reformed library cards could benefit undocumented immigrants

A proposal by the city of Los Angeles to reform their library cards would give illegal immigrants the ability to use the card to open a bank account, use a debit card, transfer funds (both domestically and internationally) and utilize direct deposit for their paychecks. While this card would not protect undocumented immigrants from deportation — nor would it work as an official form of identification — it would grant them important privileges that would promote “financial literacy.”

While this idea will certainly be contentious (as is the case with almost any immigration matter), it is not without precedent. San Francisco has a specialized city ID that grants similar privileges to the proposed Los Angeles plan, as do the cities of Oakland and Richmond.

The proposal aligns with much of the legislative reform and policy change that has occurred within the U.S. immigration system recently. Outright austerity or immunity is not the goal; but providing illegal immigrants with access to much needed civil institutions and programs very much is.

Ultimately, these illegal immigrants would have to go through the proper legal process to attain citizenship or residency in the country, and thus gain the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen.

This specialized card could be a very helpful for many illegal immigrants, some of whom still face the prospect of deportation on a daily basis. When someone is deported, they can have an incredibly difficult time building a case to defend the charges against them, let alone reenter the country once the deportation is complete. They must rely on a skilled attorney to help (and, in many cases, bolster) their case.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. to consider multi-use library cards for illegal immigrants,” Catherine Saillant, Sept. 11, 2012

  • Removing someone from the country is incredibly serious. To learn more about the issue, please visit our Los Angeles deportation page.
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