The Phoenix City Council approved on Wednesday the study of a city identification card.
The idea behind such an ID card is to provide identification to those who don't have a government-issued ID, mainly unauthorized immigrants.
Similar ID card programs already exist in New York and San Francisco.
In Phoenix, One PHX ID, a coalition of pro-immigrant groups, trade unions, charities, local school districts, and others are pushing the idea. Paul Penzone, a retired Phoenix police sergeant who ran for county sheriff in 2012, also supports the idea.
According to city council documentation:
A Unified City Services Card would provide a one-card system for access to City services including libraries, parks, transit, and senior centers. In some other cities, such a card also is used as identification in accordance with their state laws. The specific uses of a Unified City Services Card in Phoenix would be subject to City Council authorization.
As you can imagine, the idea's controversial. Wednesday's 5-4 vote barely authorized letting city employees study the issue, though Mayor Greg Stanton was one of the supporters.
The coalition backing the IDs argues that such an ID could actually save taxpayer money over time. It would cost the city money to find a company to print these IDs, but the idea is to use the single card for library, community center, bus, and light rail programs.
The group has suggested that young people, the elderly, homeless, transgender people, and domestic violence survivors could also directly benefit from such an ID program due to their potential lack of documentation needed to get a state-issued ID.
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The city's now going to research potential costs, uses, policies, and technology issues surrounding the ID, and report that back to the council.
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