Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Cannon on Matricula Card
Despite Rep. Chris Cannon's pride in Utah's acceptance of the Matricula: ( "We love immigrants in Utah. And we don't oftentimes make the distinction between legal and illegal. In fact I think Utah was the first state in the country to legislate the ability to get a drivers license based on the matricula consular and of that I am proud." Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), MALDEF award ceremony, June 6, 2002 ), an interesting new insight into the Matricula Consular ID card has come forth from the US House:

10 July 2003 WASHINGTON - Citing recent Administration testimony on the criminal and terrorist threats caused by greater U.S. acceptance of Mexican consular identification cards, or matriculas consular, Members of Congress responsible for homeland security and law enforcement oversight today urged Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to “act decisively” in dealing with the issue. The Department of Homeland Security is playing a key role in the Adminstration's attempts to craft a policy for dealing with consular identification cards. While these documents have been issued by foreign countries to their nationals living abroad for over 100 years, only since March 2002, foreign consular agents in the United States have been lobbying States and localities to accept them for identification purposes.

Sending today’s letter to Secretary Ridge were House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.).

"Despite the widespread acceptance of these cards, however, it appears that they are neither reliable nor secure....There are several aspects to the criminal threat posed by the matricula according to the FBI. The matricula 'can be a perfect breeder document for establishing a false identity,' and therefore can be used to facilitate a variety of crimes, 'from money laundering to check fraud.' A false identity can also be used by a criminal seeking to conceal his or her true identity....These threats were in addition to the potential use of the cards to transfer terrorist funds, an activity facilitated by the use of false identities," the lawmakers wrote.

"Acceptance of the matricula hinders domestic investigations....This issue is of increasing concern to us as numerous other nations consider the use of consular identification cards for their citizens residing in the United States. Any federal government acceptance of unreliable identification cards from persons resident in the United States compromises our homeland security. We hope that you act decisively in response to the homeland security concerns associated with domestic acceptance of consular identification cards," added the lawmakers.

An executive branch interagency task force has been meeting regularly since January, 2003 to establish a unified federal policy addressing whether foreign government issued consular identification cards should be considered acceptable for identification purposes. The final policy will govern how federal agencies act with regard to individuals presenting the cards, and the federal policy will have an implicit effect on how most States view these cards.

The full letter is at

Comment: But is Congressman Cannon changing his mind??

"While issuing foreign identification cards is helpful for a government to recognize its own citizens, the validity of many of these cards, such as the Matricula Consular, can easily be questioned. While the Mexican government has taken measures to improve the card and to protect it from fraudulent activity, their origin and authenticity are often difficult to prove. The American government does not have access to authentication databases and in fact, many governments do not maintain electronic databases to track their cards." Rep. Chris Cannon 4 April 03