Ryan Briggs Ryan Briggs is a staff writer and connoisseur of City Hall intrigue, business dealings, neighborhood gossip and local lore. Ryan has studied, worked and resided in Philadelphia since 2004, covering politics and development issues for Hidden City, Next City and Metropolis, amongst other fine publications.
It's been quite a week for lamination companies. Coming on the heels of an eyebrow-raising worker-ID program that was stuffed into a construction-site-safety bill, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez today introduced new legislation that would create a municipal ID card aimed at undocumented immigrants in Philadelphia.
The bill would be similar to legislation that exists in L.A., Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and is designed to provide a kind of "no questions asked" form of identity, ignoring immigration status or criminal backgrounds. The cards can be used to establish residency and age, helping cardholders who might not otherwise be able to open a bank accounts or access certain city services. Cards would cost $15, with exemptions for youths, seniors and low-income residents.
"Photo IDs are an essential part of modern life, and every Philadelphian deserves access to one," said Councilwoman Sánchez, in a press release.
The bill is a smart move for a city with a growing immigrant population and smaller than average car ownership.
Meanwhile, the worker ID program, introduced earlier in the month has reportedly made its way out of committee, which has drawn concerns from immigrant associations, and builders associations. Sources have said that legislation, which would require every construction worker in the city to attend OSHA safety training and obtain a special ID card, is being pushed by local trade unions to make it easier to ferret out undocumented laborers.
James Engler, Director of Legislation for Councilman Jim Kenney, a sponsor of the bill, defended the legislation as "something we have to do to ensure everyone, union or non-union, is safe on a job site."
However, Council does not yet know how many laborers would be affected by the legislation, the cost of implementing and enforcing such a requirement, nor how much it would ultimately end up costing workers to train and obtain the cards. Engler said Council hoped to work out those details with L&I over an 18-month timeline for implementation, were the bill to be passed. Funding for the program was also unclear at this time.
Engler added the program would be the first of its kind. He said while other cities require workers to have a simple OSHA-training-certificate card, these programs had seen significant levels of fraud.
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