Politics

Advocates urge Houston PD to use enhanced county library cards as an alternative form of ID

The organizers say the library card would help those who are experiencing homelessness, the formerly incarcerated, and undocumented individuals who are unable to obtain a traditional ID.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
Victor Sanchez with Living Hope Wheelchair Association pushes for Harris County Public Library’s enhanced library card to be used as a non-traditional form of identification during a press conference in front of Houston City Hall on August 16, 2022.

Houston-area organizers gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday to urge city officials and the Houston Police Department to accept the Harris County Public Library’s new enhanced library card as an alternative form of identification.

Members of the Texas Organizing Project and Living Hope Wheelchair Association spoke about the importance of accessible identification for those who are experiencing homelessness, the formerly incarcerated, and undocumented individuals who are unable to obtain a traditional ID.

“This library card, it’s a protection for community members,” said Damaris Gonzalez, a community organizer with TOP. “We want this for our families, we want everyone to have the right to live a dignified life.”

Harris County Library’s Enhanced+ Library Card is a free photo ID that’s available to all county residents — regardless of immigration or housing status. The card contains a person’s name, address, gender and date of birth and is valid for five years.

As of now, the Houston Police Department doesn’t accept Harris County’s enhanced library card as an supplemental ID.

Gonzalez said citywide acceptance of the library card would allow for more vulnerable individuals to access resources that require an ID and help prevent the deportation of those who are undocumented.

HPD did not respond to a request for comment.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
A member of Living Hope Wheelchair Association holds a sign in support of using Harris County Public Library’s enhanced library card as a non-traditional form of identification in front of Houston City Hall on August 16, 2022.

Outside of Houston, the San Antonio Police Department last year agreed to accept a similar card created by the San Antonio Public Library.

Noe Ramirez, a member of Living Hope Wheelchair Association and a wheelchair user, joined organizers outside of City Hall Tuesday. He said undocumented individuals who are also disabled don’t have easily accessible healthcare due to a lack of identification.

“It’s not fair. They treat us like people, the second hand, you know, and we are in this country. We work, we help this country to grow. We love this country. But we need to have this identification,” Ramirez said. “We want to live without fear. We want to live with dignity, because we are a human beings like anyone else.”

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