- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2003

Mexico slams Tancredo

Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer has accused Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, of insulting his country through the use of props at a press conference last week.

Mr. Bremer, in a letter to Mr. Tancredo, objected to a poster that he said gave the appearance that Mexican diplomatic missions in the United States issue identification cards to illegal aliens so that they can open bank accounts and skirt U.S. immigration laws. He also complained that Mr. Tancredo used a photograph of Mexican President Vicente Fox at the news conference.

The ambassador said “such unbecoming behavior, which additionally constitutes a lack of respect for my country’s institutions, is neither acceptable nor honorable of your investiture as a member of the U.S. Congress.”

He said, “Your publicity maneuver — presenting a poster as if a Mexican [consular ID], purportedly issued by a fictitious office ‘for the issuance of illegal alien ID’ and using the photograph of the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox — constitutes an excess which, deep down, confirms your campaign’s lack of seriousness regarding this document, as well as the inconsistency of your arguments.”

Mr. Tancredo has warned repeatedly about the use of the consular IDs, known as “matricula consular” cards, to aid illegal immigrants and expressed fear that they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

At his press conference, he announced that he had introduced a “joint resolution of disapproval” to veto new Treasury Department regulations that would allow banks to accept the matricula consular cards as legal identification. The regulations are due to take effect Friday, unless Congress blocks them.

Mr. Tancredo, chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, said the cards are used by immigrants who do not have legal visas or permanent residency status.

“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,” Mr. Tancredo said in a statement.

He noted that other countries are watching to see whether the U.S. government accepts identification cards issued by foreign consular offices.

“Are we ready to cope with the potential security issues posed by consular ID cards issued by the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt or China?” he asked.

Mr. Tancredo could not be reached yesterday to comment on the ambassador’s letter.

India office opens

Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh joined the former president of India in a weekend ceremony to open a Washington office of a worldwide organization that promotes the country’s heritage.

K.R. Narayanan, president from 1997 to 2002, paid tribute to the estimated 20 million people of Indian origin living outside India, as he helped dedicate the Washington chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin.

He said if they organized, “they would be able to make an impact on international relations and be of great support to India’s global policies of peace and friendship.”

Mr. Narayanan, who also served as India’s ambassador to the United States from 1980 to 1984, said India’s culture is “strong and vibrant, and it embodies the values of human rights, democracy and friendship for all.

“Through the perspective of this culture, we can serve the international community as well as India.”

The Indian American Forum for Political Education, meanwhile, is pressing congressional supporters to urge President Bush to visit India.

Sudhir M. Parikh, president of the group known informally as the Forum, spoke of great improvements in U.S.-Indian relations since Mr. Bush became president. Mr. Bush is expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at a Group of Eight summit in France next week.

Speaking at a congressional reception last week, Dr. Parikh, a New Jersey physician, said, “I am sure you will all agree that it would be far more productive for our president to spend more of his time with the Indian prime minister than with French President Jacques Chirac.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrisonwashingtontimes.com.

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