Some 500 Chicago residents snapped up the new municipal ID cards on the first day the so-called CityKey cards were available, officials said.
The identification cards, for people in the country illegally and other Chicagoans, have been seen as a countermove against President Donald Trump ‘s restrictive immigration stance.
“We are really excited, there’s clearly a big demand,” said Kate LeFurgy, spokeswoman for the city clerk’s office, which is handling applications and processing the IDs.
The city launched the program Monday at Kennedy-King College in Englewood and some 500 applications were processed. On Tuesday, City Hall was busy handling a fresh round of applicants, though numbers weren’t available.
Linda Minor, 65, of Back of the Yards, traveled to City Hall on Tuesday to apply for a card, hoping to take advantage of the discounts given to cardholders. Some of those benefits include discounts at restaurants, museums and sporting events.
“If you’re a senior like me, you can get benefits,” Minor said. “If you can get the benefits, get them, and it helps out in the long run.”
Lincoln Park resident Val Ozols was among a handful of people who sat outside of the clerk’s office Tuesday. He was in the Loop when he decided to pop into the office to see if he could get in, and lucked out.
The program caught his attention because the ID can be used as a library card and a Ventra card.
The city clerk’s office, which is handling all the IDs, will be processing applications Wednesday at the 18th Ward office at 8359 S. Pulaski Road and the cards will be available at other city neighborhood spots. Residents can make appointments to get their cards Thursday and Friday with the clerk’s office at City Hall — and semiregularly after that, as the office also ramps up city sticker sales.
Residents fill out a basic application noting their name, address and birthday. Applicants also have to provide the following documentation: a photo ID, such as a passport, proof of their date of birth and paperwork proving they live in the city.
The applicant has the option of providing an emergency contact, whether he or she wants to be an organ donor and other medical information such as allergies. A city clerk staffer reviews the documents and application and, if approved, the card is printed right away, LeFurgy said, who noted that the entire process takes about 15 minutes.
The CityKey program provides immigrants living in the country without legal permission a valid form of identification. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for the program since 2016, and as he heads into re-election season, the move is seen as a way to reach out to Hispanic voters.
The measure was passed by the City Council in 2017, but the program has met resistance from some African-American council members and white aldermen. Critics say the program is not a proper use of city funds while others question why the city wants to help immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
It also has stirred controversy, as some are concerned ineligible voters could use the municipal IDs to not only register but also to vote.
But the city is offering perks to possibly entice a larger pool of residents. Cardholders are eligible for discounts at Chicago Sky games and at some performances at the Joffrey Ballet and a free one-day admission to the Field Museum.
The city is giving out the first 100,000 cards for free, but after that adults will pay $10 and children will pay $5. Senior citizens won’t have to pay for the cards, and certain groups such as veterans and low-income residents could get a fee waiver.
Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne contributed.
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