- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

The Mexican government is convincing hundreds of local government and police departments across the United States to accept its identification cards used by legal and illegal aliens, which critics say amounts to a backdoor amnesty for illegal aliens.

The cards are accepted by more than 800 police departments in 13 states, according to Miguel Manterrubio, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington. Published reports indicate more than 400 cities now consider the Matricula Consular cards proper identification, including Montgomery County, which began recognizing them last month.

Acceptance of the cards means police, cities and private companies typically responsible for turning illegal residents over to federal authorities are relenting. Supporters say the card allows immigrants to open bank accounts to keep money secure and helps prevent crime because the aliens are not afraid to seek police help.

The Mexican Embassy denies its 47 consulate offices in the United States are lobbying or contacting cities and counties directly urging them to accept the “matricula,” which means “to register” in Spanish.

“It’s a process in which they share information. … I would not say we contact them,” said Mr. Manterrubio.

“What the consulate does is share information. We explain why we consider it a secure document, and if they share that opinion it is a secure document they accept it as identification,” said Mr. Manterrubio.

By appealing to the local government level, the Mexican government is “undermining” the federal government, which has jurisdiction over authorizing identification cards of foreigners and is “absolutely unacceptable,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and author of federal legislation to end acceptance of the cards by banks.

“How many … immigration systems are we running in this country for crying out loud?” said Mr. Tancredo.

The Mexican Embassy did not follow through on its offer to share the list of cities or states that officially accept the cards. However, a partial list compiled by The Washington Times shows the cards are accepted by some cities and counties in New Mexico, Georgia, Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Nevada and South Carolina.

The cards are also accepted by more than 70 banks including Bank of America, Bank One, and Citibank.

Colorado recently outlawed use of the card already approved by many cities there, and legislation to restrict the card has been introduced in the Arizona and Iowa state legislatures. The card has been rejected in New York, and critics of the card in Utah are also lobbying for legislation banning it.

Critics of the card say it is intended to circumvent Congress, which since September 11 has been reluctant to grant amnesty to the estimated 9 million immigrants living in the United States. Half are Mexican. They also say the only people using these cards are illegal aliens, because legal immigrants already have valid ID such as their green card or state-issued driver’s license.

Mr. Tancredo said Mexican consulates actively lobbied Colorado cities to approve the cards.

“That is exactly what is going on and has been going on. They are not bashful about it,” said Mr. Tancredo, who is sponsoring legislation to end acceptance of the cards by banks,

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