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El Paso City Council votes not to fund municipal IDs

A municipal ID proposal has been voted down by El Paso City Council.

Mayor Dee Margo broke a 4-4 tie vote. Reps. Michiel Noe, Henry Rivera, Sam Morgan and Cecilia Lizarraga voted no. Reps. Peter Svarzbein, Cassandra Hernandez-Brown, Claudia Ordaz-Perez and Alexsandra Annello voted in favor of funding municipal IDs.

Rep. Annello placed the item on the agenda asking for a $320,000 city match to El Paso County funds for the program.

Representatives from the Border Network for Human Rights and members of the public spoke to the council and argued the municipal IDs would benefit the El Paso community.

This is not the first time city reps have tried to tackle the issue.

Advocate Robert Heyman, with the Border Network for Human Rights, believes people who don’t have IDs should have a way to get one. He spoke to the council at Monday’s meeting and echoed many of the points he made last year in front of a different council.

“Think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have your driver’s license in your pocket. Would you feel comfortable just going around town? Would you feel comfortable interacting with a police officer if you didn’t have a good way to ID yourself?” Heyman asked.

A focus group found that these cards would benefit undocumented immigrants, homeless individuals, youths, elderly individuals, formerly incarcerated individuals and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Mayor Dee Margo was concerned the municipal IDs would paint the city of El Paso as a “sanctuary city.”

“I have spoken with the governor’s office and I have great concern that we are talking about spending over $300,000 with potential of jeopardizing millions of dollars in grants that are already in place but not completely funded. That is my biggest concern related to this, irrespective of the fact that I am against SB4 and the way it is structured,” Margo said.

“I was raised that you don’t give in to bullies. The mayor today gave in to a bully. That is disappointing,” Heyman said.

The services that would become available to municipal ID card holders would include identification for law-enforcement purposes, emergency purposes, utilities, hospital healthcare, schools, libraries and public transit.

Noncitizens may obtain a “matricula consular,” an official ID issued by Mexican consulates that identifies Mexicans living abroad. It costs $26. Some law enforcement agencies do not accept it as a form of identification, but the El Paso police do accept it as a form of ID to report a crime.

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