In the United States, individuals are required to show a valid form of ID to do a whole host of things, from renting an apartment, cashing a check, getting a marriage license, or picking up prescriptions to making large purchases such as cars or homes. Yet many of the 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States do not have access to any form of identification. They face great hurdles when attempting critical activities such as enrolling their children in school, opening a bank account, or getting medical care. Unauthorized parents, for example, hesitate to sign up for health benefits for their eligible children because they do not have a verifiable way to identify themselves. Ensuring that everyone has access to ID is not only beneficial for individuals but for entire communities as well. For example, providing universal access to driver’s licenses would make it much more likely that every person behind the wheel of a vehicle has passed a driving test.

This report focuses on three approaches that states, localities, and service providers have taken to ensure that unauthorized immigrants can obtain acceptable forms of identification, including driver’s licenses, municipal identification cards, and consular identification cards. These solutions are innovative ways to bridge the gap between federal policies and local realities, with each providing its own set of benefits.

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