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San Francisco mayor puts ID card program on hold

[JURIST] San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom [official website] has postponed implementation of a program [city backgrounder] to issue identification cards [JURIST news archive] giving city residents access to government services without regard to immigration status. A mayoral spokesman said Thursday that the delay is necessary to ensure that the program does not violate state or federal law. An ordinance [text] approved [San Francisco Chronicle report] by the city's Board of Supervisors [official website] in November authorized the city clerk to issue the cards, which could be presented to any city department or city-funded agency as as proof of identification and residency. The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) [advocacy website] has filed a lawsuit [case materials] on behalf of several city residents challenging the program as violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) [text]. In a petition [PDF text] seeking injunctive relief, IRLI alleged that the program would have "growth-inducing impacts" by encouraging illegal aliens to live in the city. IRLI claimed the program must undergo an environmental impact study, as required by CEQA, before taking effect. The city was to begin issuing the cards as soon as next month. AP has more. The San Francisco Chronicle has local coverage.

The San Francisco program was modeled after a similar initiative in New Haven, Connecticut, which last year became the first US city to issue IDs to illegal immigrants [JURIST reports]. Another San Francisco ordinance, intended to maintain the city's status [JURIST report] as a haven for immigration [JURIST news archive], has also been controversial. In July, an advocacy group urged [JURIST report] the US attorney for Northern California to investigate a homicide involving an illegal immigrant who had avoided deportation under the ordinance, which prohibits city employees from reporting illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

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