Frontera Fund News

Success! Arizona Shoots Down Two Anti-Immigration Bills


This week, the Arizona Senate narrowly defeated SB 1017 – a bill that attempted to derail the Phoenix municipal ID. The brainchild of Republican John Kavanagh, SB 1017 would have essentially replaced the proposed municipal ID card with a “municipal services access card” that could not be used as identification.

The Phoenix municipal ID, which recently gained support from the Phoenix City Council and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, could be used by all residents of Phoenix to access municipal services such as libraries and transport, and to get discounts at cultural institutions.

The ID would allow transgender and gender non-conforming people to identify with the gender of their choice. More controversially, it could serve as identification for undocumented immigrants, the homeless, and seniors without birth certificates, giving them greater ability to report crimes and visit their children’s schools.

Kavanagh said that the municipal ID was “asking for identity theft.” But the cities that have adopted such an ID card – including New York City and Oakland, California – have taken numerous measures to ensure high standards of verification and confidentiality.

Even some supporters of immigrant rights have expressed concern that a municipal ID could be a Scarlet Letter branding people with a “U” for “undocumented.” They worry that if an undocumented person presented a municipal ID when reporting a crime, a police officer might consider that cause for “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally, under SB 1070.

However, “the real red flag is having no ID,” says Center for Neighborhood Leadership co-founder Ken Chapman. And, he says, since the ID is designed to be used by everyone from citizens who want discounts at art museums to LGBT people who want to choose their gender identity, having the card would not be sufficient cause to suspect a person is undocumented.

After the Arizona Senate defeated SB 1017, Kavanagh had 24 hours to revive the bill. But he failed.

Now, with SB 1017 dead, the Phoenix municipal ID is back on track to launch this summer. The victory was achieved thanks to the support of the community and enormous efforts, both public and behind-the-scenes, from One PHX ID. The coalition of several groups, including the Center for Neighborhood Leadership, hosted rallies, debated with bill sponsor John Kavanagh, attended meetings to garner support from Phoenix City Council members and legislators, and wrote numerous letters.

Also this week, the Arizona Senate shot down legislation that would have penalized so-called “sanctuary cities.” SB 1378, sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Smith, would have stripped state funding from cities that have any policy to “limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

“We have won these battles but will keep an eye and ear at the state legislature,” announced Viridiana Hernandez of One PHX ID. “With these two bills out of the way, we will now shift our focus back to make sure the [municipal ID] process at the city level continues smoothly.”