November 21, 2007 / 12:28 AM / 10 years ago

San Francisco to give illegal aliens ID cards

<p>A man carries a sign to protest moves to tighten U.S. immigration laws in San Francisco, California March 27, 2006. San Francisco will give resident identification cards to illegal immigrants under a plan approved on Tuesday amid a fierce nationwide debate on granting privileges to undocumented aliens.Kimberly White</p>

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco will give resident identification cards to illegal immigrants under a plan approved on Tuesday amid a fierce nationwide debate on granting privileges to undocumented aliens.

In a 10-1 vote, the city's board of supervisors -- the equivalent of a city council -- approved giving identification cards to all residents, including illegal immigrants. The move makes San Francisco the largest U.S. city to back such a plan.

Residents will be able to obtain the resident cards by presenting photo identification and proof they live in the city, such as a utility bill. It was unclear if the new cards, which will be accepted at libraries and health clinics, will carry photos.

Such a move had been expected from San Francisco, which is famously liberal. Earlier this year, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he would not allow city officials and employees to assist immigration raids by federal authorities seeking people who had committed crimes or disregarded deportation orders.

San Francisco, which declared itself a "sanctuary city" in 1989, also this year launched a program to provide medical care to uninsured residents regardless of their immigration status.

At the state level, California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed bills that would allow undocumented aliens to obtain state identification cards, including driver's licenses.

By contrast, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, proposed giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses. But he was forced to drop the plan last week due to overwhelming opposition, even from presidential candidates from his own party like Hillary Clinton.

Reporting by Jim Christie, editing by Cynthia Osterman

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