A Southwest Connecticut city is marking the fifth anniversary of being the first in the U.S. to issue municipal ID cards, according to a published report.
July 24, 2007, was when New Haven city officials unveiled the Elm City Resident Card program, The New Haven Independent reports. Despite anticipations of widespread controversy, the card strengthened the community.
But a new challenge has arisen: preserving the ID card's relevancy and usefulness as compared to it being merely a symbolic item for those who are in possession of it.
Part of New Haven's goal with the Resident Card was to protect immigrants while welcoming them to the community. Events scheduled to mark the card's fifth year in operation include a press conference, a photo exhibit hosted by city hall and a panel discussion slated for later in the week at the public library.
Cardholders also will be entitled to special discounts at particular restaurants.
Mayor John DeStefano helped create the card five years ago and said the city is gearing up to continue the program and expand upon it.
Each Resident Card holds a picture, the name, address, birthdate and signature of the bearer. The card has been used by many people to open bank accounts and gain access to public places.
Numerous additional cities have taken cues from New Haven, the publication reports. Metropolitan districts in New Jersey and California have employed the use of or are developing identification cards.
The mayor lauded the ID card and said fears of negative byproducts never manifested.
Rather, those who needed an ID were able to capitalize on its use.
"It wasn’t the end of the world. And the American nation did not collapse," the mayor said. "It was just an identity document. That's all it was. It's an effective tool for people who want to use it."
In addition to helping people get bank accounts, the card also helped bearers acquire memberships at Costco, cash checks at Western Union, acquire jobs, secure health insurance, gain entry to a food pantry and solicit a bus pass, according to a city spokeswoman.
At least 10,000 of the identification cards have been distributed since the program first began five years ago, according to The New Haven Register.
The photo exhibit at city hall is entitled: "My City, My Card."
The panel discussion at the New Haven Free Public Library will circle around the card's recent past, what's happening with it now and what sort of future prospects are likely, according to The New Haven Register.