- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Nine states are accepting a Mexican government identification card as one form of documentation enabling its holder to obtain a driver’s license.

California has come under the most criticism for accepting the matricula consular as a secondary form of identification. Idaho, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin also recognize the cards as either a primary or secondary document to obtain a license.

Every state assembles its own list of acceptable documentation to prove name, age and address.

A high school yearbook, newspaper clipping or church directory works in Idaho. Membership in the Hoosier Rx plan, a school report card or gun permit is recognized by Indiana. An adoption record — officially sealed — is accepted in Michigan. Wisconsin takes Canadian social insurance cards or prison-release documents.

But the common denominator among this hodgepodge of paper is that all are considered verifiable. That’s opposed to the matricula consular card, issued by the Mexican Embassy and its consulates to its citizens living in the United States legally, and some say illegally.

In North Carolina, even a Mexican voter card or Mexican military card is an adequate form of identification to obtain a driver’s license.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has issued a resolution calling it “premature” to accept the matricula consular card as a verifiable document on which to issue a driver’s license.

Members of the AAMVA “expressed concerns that foreign consular IDs, including Mexico’s matricula consular card, lack standardized issuance procedures, uniform security features and a secure database for verification purposes,” the resolution said.

The Treasury Department recently ruled the matricula cards could be accepted by financial institutions, but federal law-enforcement agencies continue to express reservations about the card’s validity.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last month warned banks and local officials accepting the cards that “they do so at their peril.”

Many states also accept individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) issued by the Internal Revenue Service, including California, which counts it as a primary form of identification. However, a letter obtained by The Washington Times from the IRS says the agency’s own numbers are “not valid for identification.”

“If your state is considering legislation to accept ITINs as proof of identity for driver’s incenses, please alert your legislators to potential security risks,” Henry O. Lamar Jr., commissioner of the IRS wage and investment division, said in a letter to state governors and motor vehicle department directors.

Driver’s licenses provide unrestricted access to most public buildings and air and ground transportation, Mr. Lamar warned.

Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Kentucky and North Carolina recognize ITINs as valid documentation to get a driver’s license.

Keith Kiser, chairman of the AAMVA board, told a congressional panel last week that outdated licensing procedures are a threat to homeland security.

In addition to California, other states have “weakened driver’s license ID procedures by allowing undocumented aliens to obtain a license,” Mr. Kiser said. “This further compromises our nation’s security.”

Linda Lewis, president and chief executive officer of the AAMVA, said her organization strongly opposes a national identification card. Congress instead needs to establish national standards to ensure driver’s licenses are secure and reliable.

“States’ rights are important, but when you have a problem of this scope that is sweeping the entire country, it is most appropriate for Congress to step in,” she said.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and leading critic of the matricula card, agreed.

“It’s alarming to see how far this has gotten,” Mr. Tancredo said.

“We have to realize that this phenomenon is an assault on the concept of citizenship and we will all just be residents,” he said.

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