Following along the lines of some universities, a Connecticut city has decided to fund a study to determine if they should add debit card functionality onto the ID card they issue to all city residents. The Elm City card was developed as means of addressing the problem of immigrants’ lack of photo identification pursuant to using public services and as a form of ID for financial transactions. At the time it was developed (2007) it was considered a controversial approach to this problem and offering additional enhancements to the card has once again raised questions around how best to serve undocumented residents.
The city says it will help get people one step closer to financial literacy and security. Right now, the cards, which are available to all New Haven residents, allows holders to open bank accounts, and gives them access to libraries and city beaches. Many spoke out against the cards saying they are an open invitation to undocumented residents to come live here in New Haven.
In a similar move, the city of Oakland has also drafted a contract to combine ID/debit functions onto its city-issued card for the same purpose. None of these solutions are currently in the market and are likely to remain niche products for the time being. However, as Federal legislators take up the question of how best to manage undocumented residents, providing functional card services may be a component of future required services and therefore, these early pilots bear watching by the industry.