Frontera Fund News

Immigrant Victory: Phoenix Municipal ID Is Coming!


After two tireless years of advocating, members and supporters of the One Phx ID coalition won a victory on August 31: The Phoenix City Council approved the creation of a municipal ID for Phoenix residents.

The card will provide identification for people who have difficulty obtaining government-issued ID: undocumented immigrants, the homeless, and many elderly citizens. In addition, it will allow transgender individuals to self-identify gender (unlike with traditional ID), and will offer discounts and benefits to any cardholder, making it valuable for all Phoenix residents.

“This is a community victory,” said Viri Hernandez, executive director of Center for Neighborhood Leadership (CNL), one of the biggest advocates for the ID. “After years of telling our stories, advocating, building a coalition, creating pressure, we won. This is community power. I am excited for the thousands of Phoenicians who will now be able to access an ID.” 

“We are happy that One PHX ID has been approved. It is an essential step for our community,” said Karyna Jaramillo, a transgender woman and member of Trans Queer Pueblo. “We expect the final version of the ID to include self-affirmed gender to ensure safety and respect for transgender people in Phoenix. This measure in Phoenix can be a pioneer in recognizing and respecting the rights of the transgender community.”

After the win, members of CNL and other activists celebrated with pachanga dance at the peaceful protest of Donald Trump’s speech, happening nearby at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Photo by Carmen Cornejo

Photo by Carmen Cornejo

Photo by Carmen Cornejo

Photo by Carmen Cornejo

The $30 municipal ID card will go live in February 2017, with preregistration beginning this December. Cards will be valid for three years.

The City of Phoenix approved a five-year contract with private financial company SF Global to produce the IDs and manage the database – at no extra cost to the city or taxpayers.

It’s expected that 10,000 people will sign up for the card. Many of those individuals will then be able to open a bank account, cash checks, visit their children’s schools, and access library resources. They will also be able to present ID when reporting a crime in their neighborhood or domestic abuse in their home, potentially making the city safer and improving relationships between police and the community.

To obtain the card, applicants will need to prove their identity and Phoenix residency using at least two identity documents, such as a foreign passport or government photo ID, a credit card, an employee ID badge, and/or a medical insurance card. Officials say the municipal ID cannot be used to establish lawful presence in the U.S., register to vote, get a job, or gain welfare benefits.

Though Phoenix will be the first Arizona city to issue a municipal ID, other cities including New York City and Oakland have implemented municipal IDs with great success.