- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

The Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco has become the first federal facility to accept Mexican-issued ID cards, used by both legal and illegal immigrants, as valid identification.
The policy was requested by new House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
The building began a four-month trial program this week. Supporters say it will allow holders of the Matricula Consular card access to the building, which requires proper identification from all visitors.
Mrs. Pelosi, who this week became the leader of House Democrats, requested the procedure so cardholders would have access to the Internal Revenue Service office in the building, said Bethany Rich, a spokeswoman for the federal government's General Services Administration.
Immigrants need to visit the IRS to obtain taxpayer identification numbers, which facilitate their working and paying taxes even if they are in the country illegally.
Opponents say accepting the ID cards encourages illegal immigrants to continue to break the law and creates an unsafe atmosphere.
"There is no one in the United States of America that needs a [Mexican-issued] ID card other than someone who is here illegally or someone here who is a felon," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.
"This is not a secure system, and even if it were a secure system, what is the responsibility of our government to accept a foreign government's card?"
The cards are issued by the Mexican government through its consular offices. Cardholders are widely recognized to be in the United States illegally because they otherwise would be able to obtain state-issued cards, such as driver's licenses.
Mr. Tancredo was particularly irate that a top government official such as Mrs. Pelosi would support the plan. He called her a "co-conspirator" to lawbreakers.
"I know that we are not supposed to be surprised by even the most bizarre behavior emanating out of San Francisco," he said, "but we should at least be taken aback when a member of Congress from that area encourages people to violate the laws of this nation."
Cindy Jimenez, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Pelosi, said the program improves safety "because people will have an incentive to register with the Mexican consulate while they are in the U.S."
"The intent of the effort is to allow these individuals to have access to the federal building if they want to go pay their taxes as well as use the post office, and also be able to talk to their representative," she said.
In addition to the IRS, the building houses Mrs. Pelosi's district office, the FBI, GSA offices and a federal court.
Ms. Rich said the new procedure was reviewed by the U.S. Marshals Service and GSA's Federal Protective Service, which provide security for the building.
"They reviewed the security risks, and deemed them to be minimal," she said.
She said visitors still have to go through routine security checks such as metal detectors.
San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago accept Matricula Consular cards for city business.
The card includes the individual's photograph and address in the United States. Mexican authorities have phased in additional security features, such as a hologram, to thwart forgeries.
Mr. Tancredo, however, said a card can be obtained simply by printing out a blank Mexican birth certificate from the Internet and filling in some information. He said one man arrested in California was carrying three cards with different names.
Mr. Tancredo said the Philip Burton "better be the last" federal building to recognize the ID cards.
"Even New York State and New York City, believe it or not, have decided to not accept the Matricula Consular cards because of the dangerous situation that puts people in," he said.

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