News

Mayor Turner Ponders Creating An ID Card Issued By The City

He says the cost factor is important and will consider alternatives like partnering with non-profit groups.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he is reviewing the possibility of creating an ID card that the City of Houston would issue, but the idea is in a preliminary phase.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he is reviewing the possibility of creating an ID card that the City of Houston would issue, but the idea is in a preliminary phase.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he is reviewing the possibility the city may create a municipal ID.

Local authorities are the ones that typically issue this kind of identification for people who can prove they live in the city.

What Turner doesn't want to go into right now is what is the political appetite the Houston City Council has for it.

"We’re taking a look at it and, you know, I’m sure they are waiting on some sort of recommendation coming from me and how we implement it, but right now it’s still being researched and nothing definitive at this point," said Turner at a press conference held after a Houston City Council meeting.

The Houston mayor points at the cost factor.

Consider New York City. It launched its municipal ID program last year.

Officials with Mayor Bill de Blasio's office say they have issued more than 800,000 cards.

They didn't disclose the cost, but news reports indicate it's several million dollars per year.

Turner says there are more affordable options.

"It may be something that we can work through some non-profit and that the city can partner with them,” he said.

That is what they do in places like Greensboro, North Carolina.

The group Faith Action International House issues the IDs in that town.

Houston City Council member Dave Martin doesn't see the expense for the city as the most important factor.

"I think if you are looking at it from a cost stand point, you are going from zero to whatever, it’s going to be more costly to implement anything that we do," said the Council member for District E. "We need to implement something that works for the City of Houston and the residents that are in this city today."

People who are homeless, seniors and members of the LGBT community could use municipal IDs in Houston.

But advocates say undocumented immigrants are still one the groups that could get the most out of them.

They would have a way to identify themselves to local authorities.

Immigration reform activists have met with members of Houston City Council to talk about the idea.

Council member Robert Gallegos, who represents District I, supports it.

He says some Houstonians also talked about the IDs at a recent public meeting and feel optimistic.

"In my opinion, it seemed like there wasn’t too many questions being asked by council, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign," Gallegos explained.

If the Houston City Council passed an ordinance creating the IDs the Houston Police Department would have to accept them.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required

Share