A Gilbert panel is asking the town to join other East Valley communities in endorsing Mexican ID cards, even though holders wouldn't have additional access to town services.
The Gilbert Human Relations Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to formally recommend acceptance of Matricula Consular cards, which are issued by the Mexican Consul to Mexican citizens living abroad. The move was met with a chilly reception by the mayor and some council members, who may be faced with a vote on the issue.
Commission chairwoman Tami Smull said the panel will address the council in January.
East Valley Interfaith, a community organization of immigrant advocates, faith groups and unions, first asked the Gilbert commission in July to support the cards.
"It may not be practical but it's symbolically important," commissioner Dan Fellner said. "It's the kind of message I would like this commission to send."
Saul Solis of East Valley Interfaith, who attended the meeting, said, "This is about the self-respect and dignity of people."
East Valley Interfaith, which is part of the Arizona Interfaith Network, helped stop state legislation earlier this year that would have banned municipalities from recognizing the cards, while successfully lobbying Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale to support them.
Prospective cardholders must provide a birth certificate, current proof of residency and a photo identification from Mexico. A person's immigration status is not checked, leading critics to argue that the cards encourage illegal immigration and make it easier for them to receive government services in the United States.
A majority of council members said Thursday they were not eager to address the issue.
"The real issue is do we want to create a crisis where none exists," Councilman Steve Urie said. "If (East Valley Interfaith is) trying to drive a state policy, they should contact their state legislators."
"There's no action for us to take as far as I can tell," Councilman Don Skousen said.
Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman does not expect to see widespread council support and said he does not feel pressure to endorse the cards, despite other East Valley municipalities as well as Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff accepting them.
"It will be a career-buster for somebody," Berman said of anyone who votes for the card. "I guarantee people in Gilbert are not big on that stuff."
Town Manager George Pettit said the town does not require photo identification for any service, while the Gilbert Police Department already accepts the card. The Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert is run by Maricopa County and accepts the card.
Smull met with East Valley Interfaith last month and identified several reasons to support the card in a report to the commission: The sense of security a cardholder would have, possible access to services provided by private businesses and a sense of dignity.