Frontera Fund News

Phoenix I.D. Card Moves Forward


The city council is voting on a program that would benefit undocumented and disenfranchised communities.

One card could prompt a battered wife to call the police for the first time, provide the homeless and elderly with access to libraries and transport, and encourage people from Ahwatukee to Arcadia to support local businesses.

It’s the Phoenix Municipal ID, and the public can help make it become a reality in the next few months as the city council votes on whether to become the tenth community nationwide to adopt such a card.

The card would allow disenfranchised individuals such as the undocumented, homeless, elderly, and youth to obtain photo ID, without which they lack access to many public services.

Because police officers ask for identification, people lacking ID chronically underreport crime and endure abuse in silence. Providing people with a municipal ID would improve relations between the police and the communities that need law enforcement’s help the most, says Joseph Larios, executive director of Center for Neighborhood Leadership. The CNL is is part a coalition of about 30 pro-card organizations called One PHX ID.

“It would allow communities of color that have been systematically disengaged from these types of programs to become engaged.”

The card would also provide discounts at local establishments and streamline library, community center, and transit services into a single card program, potentially saving taxpayers $250,000 over the next decade.

The city ID would dovetail with Phoenix’s branding efforts including the Culture Pass and “buy local” programs, says Larios. “It would allow communities of color that have been systematically disengaged from these types of programs to become engaged.”

But the card isn’t just for those lacking ID; it’s for anyone who enjoys Phoenix’s services and cultural amenities. “We want this city card to be accessible to every resident in the city, regardless of their status,” Larios says. “There are a lot of reasons to connect with your city no matter what neighborhood you live in… It will only help our city and our bottom line to have people use those amenities.”

In March, a City Council subcommittee of four voted to continue researching possible municipal ID programs. The only dissenting vote was from councilman Jim Waring, who objected on grounds of cost and providing services to the undocumented.

On April 22, the Phoenix City Council will decide whether to move forward with draft proposals for the program. The voting will continue with meetings in May and June. The public is welcome to attend the council meetings and provide input. One PHX ID also offers ways to pledge support for the program.