- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2003

Congressional opponents of illegal immigration yesterday introduced legislation that would end banks’ acceptance of the Mexican government’s Matricula Consular card as proof of identification.

The congressmen say the cards, issued by the Mexican government, are an end run around U.S. immigration laws because they are intended to make it easier for Mexicans to live in the United States illegally, and “blur the line” between legal and illegal immigrants.

The Treasury Department on April 30 issued regulations that allow U.S. banks to accept the cards as valid identification for opening a bank account. But the members of Congress have introduced a resolution of disapproval, which is the process for overturning executive regulations.

The resolution must be passed within 60 days of the regulation’s effective date, May 30, in order to end the use of the cards.

“The Treasury Department regulations send a dangerous message about immigration enforcement and appear indifferent to a potential threat to our national security,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who is chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

“Since only illegal aliens would need to carry such cards for identification purposes, or need them to open bank accounts, the regulations indicate that the Treasury Department is out of step with the American people and AWOL in the battle to stem the epidemic of illegal immigration,” said Mr. Tancredo, the resolution’s sponsor, calling the cards a de facto amnesty for millions of Mexicans living illegally here.

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, Texas Democrat, said allowing the cards is a boon to immigrants as well as the financial institutions. He has introduced a bill that would guarantee access to banks through use of the cards.

He said to get the cards, an immigrant must apply in person at one of the 47 Mexican consular offices in the United States, must prove he lives in the consular district where he is applying, and must show a legitimate identification issued by the U.S. or Mexican government.

“It’s not easy to get it,” Mr. Hinojosa said.

But he would not say whether the card requires proof of legal residence, saying instead that there shouldn’t be an automatic link between immigration and terrorism.

Opponents of accepting the cards said that anyone who is here legally will have either a green card or a visa they can use to open a bank account. They also disputed the contention that the cards are secure, pointing to recent incidents in which persons were caught with several cards, all with their own picture but each with a different name.

In addition to the resolution from yesterday, Mr. Tancredo and Rep. Elton Gallegly, California Republican, each have introduced bills to prohibit the federal government from accepting the cards as identification.

Mr. Tancredo said in addition to the resolution, he will withdraw his $400,000 campaign account from Wells Fargo, which he said accepts the cards, and open an account with a bank in Colorado that does not accept the cards.

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