RICHMOND (CBS SF) – The Richmond City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a municipal identification card program for city residents.

The ID cards will provide an official government-issued form of identification to immigrants and other residents who have difficulty obtaining other forms of identification.

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The program “contributes toward moving our city in a just, in an equitable and in a healthy direction,” said Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who brought the ordinance to the council.

The cards are meant to help people access financial services, jobs, housing and protections at home and at work.

According to a report by city staff, people without official identification are less likely to report crimes to the police and less likely to report labor and housing violations.

People without official identification also have difficulty opening bank accounts. According to the report, because many immigrants don’t have bank accounts, they often carry large sums of cash on days they get paid, which makes them targets for robbery and other violent crimes.

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Lack of official identification also decreases public participation in the formal city economy and other civic matters, according to the report.

Cardholders will have the option of having their cards function as pre-paid debit cards.

“This is a way to empower our community,” Beckles said. “This is a way to empower that segment of our community that might not feel empowered.”

The program will be administered through a third-party vendor at no cost to the city. The vendor will be chosen through an open bidding process and, once it is chosen, the City Council will set fees by resolution.

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