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IDNYC Centers Reopen in Effort to Help Undocumented New Yorkers Access Excluded Workers Fund

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up his own IDNYC card (Ed Reed/ Mayoral Photography Office)

July 13, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The city is reopening more facilities this month where New Yorkers can get a city-issued ID in an effort to help undocumented residents access financial assistance via a $2.1 billion state fund created for them.

The city is reopening five more IDNYC enrollment centers that have been shuttered due to the pandemic this month — bringing the total of open centers to 13 citywide. New Yorkers can visit the centers to get a photo identification card known as IDNYC, regardless of their immigration status.

The IDNYC is one way for undocumented New Yorkers to meet the residency and identification requirements needed to apply for assistance from the state’s recently passed Excluded Workers Fund.

The $2.1 billion fund will provide payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented New Yorkers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and didn’t qualify for federal aid. Undocumented immigrants have been ineligible to receive financial support from federal relief programs — like unemployment insurance and stimulus checks — due to their immigration status.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos — who spearheaded the effort in the senate — applauded the move to open more IDNYC centers.

“We are really looking forward to our Excluded Workers fund that we created in the state legislature in order to help so many families that didn’t receive any economic relief throughout the worst period that we’ve gone through,” Ramos said during the mayor’s daily press briefing this morning. “IDNYC will actually allow them to be able to apply for this fund — utilizing it as one of the documentation in order to prove who they are; to prove where they live.”

She said making it easier for New Yorkers to get the right documentation is essential.

“Making more appointments available, making IDNYC much more available to New Yorkers is more crucial now than ever before,” Ramos said.

Arlenis Morel, co-executive director of the Queens-based nonprofit Make the Road NY, reiterated the importance of the moment. Applications for the Excluded Workers Fund will open next month.

“The real expansion to access IDNYC comes at a critical moment when we’re working on all fronts to make the fund accessible to all eligible workers,” Morel said.

An estimated 290,000 undocumented workers across the state are expected to benefit from the relief, including 213,000 individuals in New York City alone.

There are 58,000 Queens residents who will be eligible to receive funds once applications for the program open in August, according to Fiscal Policy Institute.

“This program will provide funds for workers who have been excluded from any financial safety net assistance,” Morel said. “These are the same workers who were out on the street making it possible for many of us to quarantine at home — the same workers who had family members die in the epicenters like Corona, Queens where many of our members live.”

IDNYCs also have allowed undocumented New Yorkers to open bank accounts, sign leases or even visit their children’s school — activities that each require an ID. About 1.4 million New Yorkers have an IDNYC, de Blasio said.

“IDNYC has been a lifesaver for many of our neighbors,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, who has one herself.

New Yorkers can update their IDNYC if expired online and make an appointment to get one at an enrollment center by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/IDNYC.

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Sara Ross

Why don’t these cards offer English lessons? If you’re here more than 2 years, get government benefits and have everything written/posted in your language, you should be appreciating being here by learning our language. I know English isn’t our official language, but my grandparents came here through Ellis Island and went through vigorous physical and mental tests to be able to stay here. They had to have a place to live and a job because the government didn’t have programs to support them. Enough catering to them!

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