NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (Reuters) - As many U.S. cities and states arrest illegal immigrants in raids and toughen laws against them, a Connecticut city is offering to validate them under a controversial, first-in-the-nation ID card program.
Starting Tuesday, New Haven will offer illegal immigrants municipal identification cards that allow access to city services such as libraries and a chance to open bank accounts.
Supporters say the cards will improve public safety and give undocumented workers protections now afforded legal residents. Critics contend it will unleash a flood of illegal immigration, straining services and wasting taxpayer money.
New Haven officials overwhelmingly approved the program last month in
a 25 to 1 vote.
Of course the "bigots" are not going to take this sitting down:
Opponents hope to rally the public against it. Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform says the ID cards will change "the entire country as we know it" and is organizing a protest on Tuesday at city hall.
"There are millions of illegal aliens right around us that when these ID cards are available to them, they will rush to them and get some identification that will allow them to go to other cities," said Ted Pechinski, who leads the group.
Since New Haven is so eager to embrace the illegal alien community, here's a little help:
North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC has circulated a flier in 40 states urging illegal workers to move to New Haven, said its president William Gheen.
"Maybe New Haven needs to learn, if they want the illegals, then they'll get the illegals," he said.
Fatima, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said she is eager to apply for the card. "The ID will help me because it's a way to be in this country and get people to know who you are, especially for people who crossed the border and lost their papers," she said. "I feel safe here in New Haven."