Mexican citizens can now use their Mexican ID cards, also known as matriculas, at Chandler city offices.
"This is great news for the Mexicans living in Chandler," said the Consulate General of Mexico, Ruben Beltran. "This is nothing but the city of Chandler accepting an ID for the purposes of rendering ordinary services, like library cards."
Tempe and Mesa city councils voted to do the same after some debate.
Chandler, however, made the decision as a "low-level" administration issue and sent a memo to employees and City Council members Friday to explain the ID cards, said Pat McDermott, an assistant city manager.
In the past, it’s been up to city employees whether to accept the card, and city management hasn’t gotten involved, McDermott said.
After speaking to Beltran over the past month, McDermott said he decided Chandler should make acceptance consistent throughout the city.
Councilman Phill Westbrooks said he would have preferred more information from the city staff before the decision was made, and he wants to see how effective the card will be.
"I was a little surprised how quickly they moved," Westbrooks said. "But if it’s something that helps police and fire . . . then it would be good."
Beltran said that since last June, the consul has been issuing newly designed cards that include 20-plus security features, such as an official seal and an infrared band.
Some Chandler police officers already have been trained to use the card.
Detective Emma Bribiescas, a police spokeswoman, said the new card will help officers know whether, "the people we are dealing with are who they say they are."
"The good thing about those is they’re usually not fraudulent," she said.
The cards have prompted concerns that they may give illegal immigrants rights or privileges only legal residents have. McDermott and others said the card does not change a person’s status with the United States government; it simply acts as proof of identification.
Many legal Mexican immigrants carry the card to have access to services at the consul, Beltran said.
A mobile consulate office is scheduled to offer its services, including issuing the ID cards, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Chandler Downtown Library, 22 S. Delaware St.
Karen Drake, the city’s library manager, said her staff has long accepted that type of ID — and she hopes Saturday’s event will encourage more people to apply for a library card.