Current Affairs

Boston proposes all-inclusive city ID cards

Kaitlyn Hayes July 26, 2016
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Boston may introduce an ID card that would not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, home status, or immigration status.

For many people in the US, having proper government identification can be difficult.

Homeless people often cannot prove their identity to police, undocumented immigrants likely have no identification at all, and transgender people struggle to receive ID cards that match their gender identity.

Boston is in the early stages of introducing a new ID card that could eradicate some of these issues.

One proposal of the program called the “Boston OneCard”, would include a person’s name, date of birth, phone number, as well as a unique identification number.


Everyone living in the city, regardless of immigration status, home status, or gender identity, is encouraged to obtain one – though it won’t be mandatory.

When applying for the ID, a person would have the option to list a nonlegal name, have no gender marker, or add a group who is caring for him or her rather than a traditional address.

“The difficulty of getting a formal identification card is disproportionately burdensome for certain communities,” said City Council President Michelle Wu, a leader of the effort.

“This is an opportunity for the city of Boston to not only fill in some of those gaps but streamline city services across the board.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh also praised the idea, allocating $100,000 in the budget to the first steps in bringing the Boston OneCard to fruition.

According to an internal study provided by the mayor’s office, around one-fifth of city residents face challenges obtaining a government ID.

However, the program is not without its opponents.

Director of Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies Jessica Vaughan expressed concern that the card could lead to rampant misuse, especially by criminals looking to conceal their identity.

“The basic premise of this [is] to give ID cards to those who are here illegally,” she said. “Having a bunch of insecure forms of identification circulating is worse than none at all.”

More: identification, LGBT, Trans, US, USA

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