Betsey Plum on the Importance of IDNYC to New Yorkers

Laura Lemus
The Farm Worker’s campaign is seeking support from Long Islanders and their representatives.

In January, New York City launched a critical program for its residents known as IDNYC. I interviewed Betsey Plum, the director of special projects at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) about this program for my monthly Spanish radio segment on CyTUnidos.

Plum clarified that this identification card is only available to NYC residents living in Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, or Staten Island. The cards are important because they allow residents, regardless of status, to enter public NYC buildings, enter public schools, and open bank accounts. They can also be used as identification for the police.

She also explained why it is so difficult for this program to be expanded to the rest of New York State, including Long Island. (Click here for more about how IDNYC would work for Long Island.)

Due to the very high demand for an identification program like this, there is a shortage of resources available to expand the program to the entire state. The process to establish the program in the rest of the state is also very complicated. Like all states, New York is made up of separate counties, separate cities, and separate municipal governments, each of which handles policies differently. It is up to each individual municipality to agree to develop and adopt a program like this. Fortunately, IDNYC was initiated at the city level, which made implementation possible.

Plum did assure us that while NYC residents now have access to this identification, the fight for state-wide licenses for undocumented immigrants has not ceased. She also said that undocumented residents do not run any risk by applying for an ID and that their information and data will be protected.

Although Plum encourages undocumented residents to apply, she also emphasized that this program is not just for undocumented immigrants, but for anyone living in NYC. In fact, the more people who obtain this identification, the more we can change the sentiment that this ID is only for those who are undocumented.

Lastly, Plum listed the requirements for applying to the program and encourages NYC residents to make an appointment to apply. She also reminded those eligible that this identification card does not grant government benefits, does not qualify as a driver’s license, is not valid for travel or for use at an airport, and cannot be used as a work permit.

For questions, or to make an appointment to apply for an ID call 311 or go to

Click here for the complete interview in Spanish.

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