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Houston Immigration Advocates Lobby For Municipal IDs

Groups such as Texas Organizing Project and SEIU Texas say the undocumented community needs them, in lack of work permits through the deferred action programs.



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Elsa Caballero (center) is President of SEIU Texas, one of the organizations that are lobbying for the City of Houston to grant municipal IDs to undocumented immigrants. (Photo: Al Ortiz / Houston Public Media)

If the deferred action programs DACA and DAPA were implemented, the federal government would give work permits to those who qualified.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court will have to decide the fate of the programs and it's uncertain whether DACA and DAPA will prevail.

In that context, the local undocumented community wants the next Houston Mayor and the City Council to create municipal IDs.

Texas Organizing Project, SEIU Texas and Mi Familia Vota are three of the main groups lobbying for them.

The activists say the IDs would help undocumented immigrants.

For instance, they could identify themselves to police officers without fear of being arrested.

Texas Organizing Project member María De León talks about other advantages.

"It would be good because we could get all the benefits, such as entering our children's schools, birth certificates, marriage certificates," said De León.

Bill King and Sylvester Turner, the two candidates for Houston mayor, have different positions on municipal IDs.

King says he is against them and adds what is really needed is comprehensive immigration reform.

"We need to go get that done and not offer people some alternative that really doesn't solve the issue," he said.

However, Turner is in favor of the IDs.

"I view this as an added component of public safety, I view this as an added component of making sure people who are living within the 640 square miles are put in the best position to be productive," noted Turner.

The Houston City Council would eventually have to green light the IDs and that is why the lobbying effort will focus more on members of the new city government.

"Once we are done with the election process I think we are gonna have to meet with all of them, you know, and ask them to take a position on it," explained SEIU Texas President Elsa Caballero.

Cities like New York and San Francisco are already issuing municipal IDs to undocumented immigrants.

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