Minneapolis has paused its plans to issue municipal identification cards in part because of concerns that the information could be used to identify immigrants for deportation, Mayor Jacob Frey said Friday.
The discussions about how — and whether — to proceed come at a time when many cities are looking for ways to resist immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump. Shortly before he formally announced his re-election bid, Trump said he would deport “millions of illegal aliens.”
“There have been major changes in, obviously, the leadership of the United States” since city officials began pushing for a municipal ID program, Frey said. “And we do want to make sure people signing up for the ID card are protected.”
Minneapolis is not the only city to pursue a municipal ID card. New Haven, Conn., was among the first. Other major cities with ID programs, including New York and Philadelphia, have grappled with similar concerns over protecting data.
Minneapolis approved the creation of a municipal ID program in 2018 but had been discussing it for many years. When the measure came before City Council, more than a dozen people spoke in favor of the cards, saying that they could help not only immigrants but also transgender people, the homeless, and children under 16, among others.
Having a form of identification was crucial, they said, to opening a bank account, receiving health care and, in some cases, picking up children from school.
The information obtained by the city when people apply for municipal ID would be public under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Anyone, including federal immigration authorities, could access it.
Minneapolis leaders are watching two measures proposed in the Legislature. One, sponsored by Aisha Gomez in the House of Representatives and Scott Dibble in the Senate, both Minneapolis DFLers, would state that information about municipal ID applicants is private.
Another bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, would make it easier for many immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses without having to prove that they are in the country legally. Frey said that would reduce the need for a municipal ID.
Still, city officials have been meeting to discuss how to proceed. They initially estimated the program would cost $200,000 in its first year, with unknown costs in the future. The city has not yet issued a request for bids to create a municipal ID program.
Frey said he remains “committed to the concept” of municipal IDs. But, he added, “if we can get it done at a statewide level that would be the best-case scenario.”