The Matricula Consular card, issued by the Mexican government to Mexicans living in the United States, “is not a reliable form of identification” and poses a criminal and terrorist threat, the FBI has concluded.
“Clearly, this is a threat to vulnerability,” Steven McCraw, the assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Intelligence, told a House immigration panel yesterday.
Mr. McCraw said the identification cards are easy to obtain through fraud, and lack adequate security measures to prevent easy forgery. He cited examples of alien smugglers being arrested with up to seven different cards and an Iranian national who was arrested with a Matricula Consular card in his name.
Those worries are shared by the Department of Homeland Security, said C. Stewart Verdery, an assistant secretary for the border and transportation directorate.
“We’re concerned at the Department of Homeland Security about the acceptance and use of these cards,” he told the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.
The hearing highlighted what some lawmakers previously said is an ongoing rift in the administration between the Justice and Homeland Security departments and the State Department.
The State Department did not defend the use of the cards yesterday, but Roberta S. Jacobson, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said the department is worried about reciprocity. She said the department wants to preserve the rights of the United States to conduct its affairs in other nations, and fears retaliation if Washington opposes Mexico issuing the cards. She also said under international conventions other nations have the right to issue cards, though that does not mean the federal government must accept them or endorse their use.
Some 1.2 million cards have been issued by Mexican consulates here in the United States, and are accepted by hundreds of localities and local agencies across the nation, including most recently Montgomery County in Maryland, and Indianapolis. Guatemala is planning to issue cards to its nationals in the United States, while Brazil, Poland, Nicaragua and Haiti have all showed an interest in issuing cards.
The Mexican government has argued that it only issues the cards after someone applies in person at their local consular office in the United States, and applicants must produce acceptable identification.
But the FBI has determined that those documents, particularly Mexican birth certificates, are “easy to forge” and are a hot item in the fraudulent-document trade. Also, in some instances, individuals have been issued a card without identification if they fill out a form and convince the issuing official they are who they say they are.
Opponents of the cards’ use say they have turned into a back-door amnesty that allows illegal aliens to blend into society by letting them obtain bank accounts and some state and local services.
“The only people who need these cards are illegal immigrants, and sometimes criminals or terrorists,” said Rep. Elton Gallegly, California Republican.
None of the witnesses could dispute that claim, and Ms. Jacobson said the State Department has not studied the issue.
Mr. Verdery of the Homeland Security Department said those who are in the country legally will have either a border-crossing card, a passport and visa, or a green card signifying their legal residence in the country.