- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

Members of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, concerned about Mexico's issuance of identification cards to its citizens now in this country, introduced legislation yesterday to ensure the security and validity of ID cards accepted by the federal government.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and caucus chairman, called Mexico's delivery of nearly a million "matricula consular cards" to its citizens in the United States, many of whom are here illegally, "extremely important for reasons of national security."
"We need to stop attempts by Mexico to obtain locally what they could not get from the Congress; that is amnesty," Mr. Tancredo said at a press conference. "Specifically, I am referring to efforts by the Mexican government to use their consular offices in the United States to encourage the violation of U.S. federal law."
Mr. Tancredo said Mexico's 47 consular offices were "actively lobbying state and local governments" to accept the identification cards, which are being used by Mexican nationals to apply for social services, open bank accounts, cash checks, sign lease and rental agreements, board airplanes and as identification for police agencies.
"This is a card with no use except by those living illegally in the United States," Mr. Tancredo said. "It should not be accepted as proof of identification by state, local or federal agencies."
Earlier this month, Mr. Tancredo and 11 other House Republicans in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell questioned the propriety of the cards, describing them as an "issue of enormous significance that has massive implications for the nation."
The lawmakers said that while national identification cards were nothing new, providing them with the "express purpose of evading U.S. law was something entirely different."
"The active lobbying of local and state governments by consuls of foreign countries is, at least, a breach of international protocol deserving of a serious response by our government," the letter said.
In addition to Mr. Tancredo, the letter was signed by Republican Reps. John T. Doolittle and Dana Rohrabacher of California; Nathan Deal and Charlie Norwood of Georgia; Todd Akin of Missouri; Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina; John Sullivan of Oklahoma; Sam Johnson and Lamar Smith of Texas; and Jo Ann Davis and Virgil H. Goode Jr. of Virginia.
Mexico began a coordinated program of issuing identification cards to Mexican nationals in the United States shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The terrorist strikes had derailed a Bush administration proposal for amnesty to the 3 million to 5 million Mexican nationals who are in this country illegally.
Mexican President Vicente Fox has overseen a lobbying campaign by his government to persuade U.S. mayors, police chiefs and bank presidents to accept the cards as legal identification. Hundreds of state and local governments, along with 798 police agencies and 74 banks, now accept the cards.
Guatemala, Honduras, Poland, Peru and El Salvador have since begun or are considering issuing identification cards of their own for their citizens now in the United States, based on the success of the Mexican program.
A report Tuesday by the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said the Mexican government had undertaken an aggressive grass-roots lobbying campaign to win acceptance of the cards, especially in areas where Mexican illegal aliens are concentrated.
CIS, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that supports scaling back immigration levels to the United States, said in a report that Mexico's objective was to achieve quasi-legal status for Mexican nationals illegally in this country without waiting for the now-stalled amnesty legislation.
The report also said the card was useful only for illegal aliens, because legal immigrants have U.S. government-issued documents, and that safeguards were not in place to prevent the fraudulent issuance of cards.
The cards, which cost $29, are valid for five years. They can be obtained from any of the Mexican consular offices in this country with a birth certificate, ID photo and proof of U.S. residence.


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