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Elsewhere in the local control follies

Well, at least it’s not about bathrooms.

El Paso is billing its effort to provide the indigent and undocumented with new municipal ID cards as a way to enhance public safety and build community. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott seems to see it another way.

“We are going to ban sanctuary city policies,” the governor tweeted last week in response to a question on the proposal, using the common term for government entities believed to intentionally disregard federal immigration laws.

Since 2014, proponents of a local ID card have argued such a document could benefit about 50,000 people living in the West Texas area, including the homeless, the poor, immigrants and the elderly, many of whom lack access to another form of government ID. It would lead to greater cooperation with law enforcement, they say, and could be used to access local services like libraries and utilities — but not to drive, get through a TSA checkpoint or vote.

The cards regained momentum last month, when the El Paso County Commissioners Court voted to work with the city to make them a reality.

But the measure appears poised to pit border leaders against Republicans in the Capitol. And this time, it won’t be the GOP advocating for local control.

El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, who pitched the ID card to the court last month, called Abbott’s social media response shortsighted.

“I am always constantly surprised and stunned when I hear state leaders like Gov. Abbott, who on one hand decry what they view as the federal government’s overreach into state affairs … turn around and seek to interfere with affairs at the local level,” Stout said.

It’s hardly a surprise at this point, but I sympathize. I can understand why there might be concerns about cities issuing ID cards, but if they’re basically library cards that can also be used to get water and electricity hooked up, I’m not really sure what the fuss is about. But that’s the way it is with our authoritarian state government, which refuses to recognize as legitimate anything it doesn’t already agree with, and takes action against it. Sort of makes you miss the old conservative way of not meddling where one does not belong, doesn’t it?

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