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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
US city issues immigrant ID card
US border police make an arrest
Opponents say the ID cards will open the floodgates to immigrants
A city in Connecticut has become the first in the United States to issue identity cards to illegal immigrants.

New Haven - best known as the home of Yale University - is offering the cards to all its residents, including to some 12,000 undocumented immigrants.

City leaders say the plan will enable immigrants to open bank accounts and make them less vulnerable to crime.

But the ID card scheme, which comes as some other cities get tough on illegal immigrants, has also prompted protests.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said the cards, which were approved last month, would make immigrants more willing to report crime.

"The simple straightforward purpose here is to build a stronger community," he said.

"You can't police a community of people who won't talk to our cops."

'Welcome mat'

But opponents said the move would encourage illegal immigration.

Bill Farrel, of Southern Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Reform, said: "It's going to be a welcome mat for illegal aliens to come to the region, flood the labour market and dry up working-class and middle-class jobs."

BBC Americas editor Will Grant says the controversial move stands in stark contrast to the approach towards illegal immigrants adopted in other parts of the US.

New laws and proposals in more than 90 cities or counties across the country include prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal immigrants and penalising firms that employ them.

Last month, US President George W Bush's plans for immigration reform collapsed in the Senate amid strong opposition.

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