The Pope loves New York and now he has received documentation to prove it.
During his visit to the Big Apple on Friday, September 25, Pope Francis became one of the newest individuals to receive an IDNYC card. New York City started the program less than a year ago. Mayor Bill de Blasio announce the initiative in his State of the City address in January of 2014.
The card is designed to be accessible for every New York City residents regardless of immigration status. Some benefits of the card include free visits to various museums and other venues, and discounts on performances and prescription drugs and more.
“IDNYC is about creating inclusion, compassion and unity for our city. Few have spoken more clearly and eloquently on the importance of these values and the rights of all humanity to be treated with dignity and respect than Pope Francis,” said de Blasio in a statement. “IDNYC is a card that allows every New Yorker – regardless of immigration or economic status – to live safely in their communities, interact with government, and receive services. It is a vital equalizer and true symbol of the Pope’s message to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”
“The Pope’s message of equality and unity resonates across the world and especially in New York City, home to people of all colors, faiths, and background,” added Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto. “IDNYC is a resource for all New Yorkers, inclusive of the vibrant diversity that makes our city so unique – and it embodies the Pope’s call to uplift, empower, and respect those whom society so often marginalizes.”
A day before Pope Francis received his card, an event was held at the Sunset Park IDNYC Enrollment Site to celebrate the identification card as well as have officials and cops sign up for their own.
“This card can be used to enter schools, interact with local law enforcement and to apply for city service. For the young and the elderly, you can have an emergency contact on the back of the card, and you can list the preferred language,” said Director of IDNYC Outreach Bitta Mostofi during the event. “This card is free this year. And it provides great community benefits.”
“Today we’re doing a very specific outreach to the Chinese community and Sunset Park,” he told the Home Reporter. “We know this is card that has already transformed hundreds of thousands of lives in New York City, which is why we’re asking people to come the center here in Sunset Park.”
Commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, Captain Tommy Ng, explained the benefits of the card with respect to community-police relations.
“All 35,000 police officers were trained to recognize this as a proper form of legal documentation whenever there’s an encounter with the Police Department, such as a vehicle accident even getting a summons for a minor offense,” he said. “This is a great way to start a relationship with the community, improve the quality of life and identify everyone as an equal resident, especially in Sunset Park where large parts of the population are immigrants.”
As of today, over 540,000 residents have become cardholders since IDNYC’s launch.