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New Haven, Conn., can wait no more for Congress to enact meaningful immigration reform.

Tuesday, the city began issuing identification cards to provide a way for illegal immigrants to interact with government, banks and other institutions. The city is filling a need for these people who must live in the shadows and cannot get official IDs in other ways.

Immigration really is the proper purview of the federal government, not of the cities, counties or states. But who can blame them for acting?

Mayor John DeStafano said the move will build a better sense of community and make illegal immigrants less vulnerable to crime and less afraid to interact with police. Advocates say the city-issued IDs will help people open bank accounts so they will be less likely to carry lots of cash, which is a target of criminals.

City officials estimate as many as 10 percent of New Haven's residents are not in the United States with legal permission. Nationwide, about 12-million people are illegal immigrants. And the Pew Hispanic Center estimates one in 20 jobs is held by a person without legal status.

Congress, over two years now, has failed to produce reform that secures the borders while ensuring the U.S. economy has enough workers.

After the standoff in the Senate last month, most observers doubt there will be another effort until after the 2008 presidential election.