July 23, 2004
The Gilbert Town Council rejected a request from a town commission Thursday to recognize a Mexican identification card.
The council took no formal action during a joint meeting with the Human Relations Commission, but council members said the card is unnecessary for immigrants legally in this country and Gilbert residents seeking town services.
"It comes down to the fact it’s legal identification for people who can’t provide legal identification any other way," Councilman Les Presmyk said.
"I guess deep down this is assisting, to some extent, illegal immigration," Vice Mayor Don Skousen said.
It was not decided Thursday if the council will formally vote at a future meeting against the card’s recognition, or let the discussion speak for itself.
The commission began studying the topic one year ago at the request of East Valley Interfaith, a group that successfully pushed for the card’s recognition in Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Tucson and other cities and government agencies.
Gilbert’s acceptance of the Matricula Consular, which is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican citizens living abroad without checking immigration status, would have many tangible and intangible benefits to the town, commissioners said.
They did acknowledge, however, that a photo identification is not required for Gilbert services — except to use recreation center equipment — and the police department already accepts the card.
Commissioner Dan Fellner said accepting the card would send the right message.
"Let’s put an end to this perception that Gilbert is not as inclusive as it can be," Fellner said.
The commission first voted to make its request to the council in December, but it took months before there was council support to hear its recommendation.
"You may think we’re ashamed because of the outcome, but I can’t be more proud (of this commission)," said chairwoman Tami Smull as she fought back tears.