In the eyes of the federal government, Carlos is still an undocumented immigrant.
But four years ago, the city of New Haven, Conn., issued Carlos -- his real name has been changed at his request due to privacy concerns -- its own form of documentation: a municipal ID. The ID allowed him, for the first time, to open a bank account, apply for hospital services, check out library books, access city beaches and parks and even take a cross-country flight.
"We feel like we've been given an identity in the United States," Carlos said.
New Haven has issued nearly 7,500 ID cards like it since their introduction in 2007, according to city spokesperson Adam Joseph. Known as the Elm City Resident Card, New Haven's municipal ID has spurred similar efforts in other so-called "sanctuary cities" around the country since its inception. Sanctuary cities, which date to the late 1970s, are known as such for adopting practices aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.