The city of Oakland, Calif. has started a program to issue photo identification that doubles as debit cards to any residents who apply, including undocumented immigrants.
City officials say the cards will help people who need a form of ID and give poor populations access to essential banking services.
Since many undocumented immigrants do not have access to banking, they are forced to carry cash, making them susceptible to crime. They must rely on check cashing services, which can charge high fees, advocates say. Residents using the debit cards would pay fees for withdrawing and depositing money, NPR reports.
But the cards have raised concerns. Mark Krikorian, who directs the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank favoring strict immigration policies told NPR that the cards amount to amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Some privacy advocates fear that putting personal information on a debit card opens the cardholder up to fraud and theft. A lost or stolen card would give thieves information they need to access money in the account, Huffington Post reports.
The city is working with SF Global, a Venice, Calif.-based company, along with MasterCard and the Minnesota-based University National Bank to run the program.