Los Angeles Daily News, Local View, January 23, 2003
Consular ID cards threat to national security.
By Hal Netkin

It has been just under a year and a half since 9/11, and the gravity of the situation has still not set in with the L.A. City Council.

Six months ago, thirteen out of fourteen L.A. City Council members voted to launch a six month trial to officially accept the Mexican Matricula Consular card as a valid ID. These wallet size IDs are issued by the Mexican Consulate to Mexican nationals without conducting fingerprint, criminal, or medical background checks and are NOT verifiable by any local law enforcement agency.

Other U.S. cities have already began accepting the IDs, but with strong memories of 9/11, New York City and New York State, with one of the fastest-growing Mexican populations in the nation, are not about to join them. Citing security concerns, New York Police Department officials said they had rejected requests from the consulate to accept the new "Matricula Consular," or consular ID card, as proof of identity for Mexican immigrants.

To receive the IDs, Mexicans need only produce a Mexican birth certificate, any other form of Mexican identification such as a voter or school registration card, and a local utility bill as proof of residency, and pay the consulate a $29.00 filing fee. Although the Mexican consulate lauds the impossibility of forging the high-tech card, forged Mexican birth certificates and other forms of IDs are easily obtained for about $25.00 from one of the many forged document vendors in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles.

Although the IDs do not necessarily mean that the bearers are illegal immigrants, they are the only ones in need of such a card since any legal immigrant can legally obtain a valid California ID or driver's license.

By deciding to honor a foreign identity document and enter into a cooperative effort with a foreign government, the city council is taking an active role in making immigration policies. In an email exchange with ex-police officer Councilman Dennis Zine (who voted for the six month ID trial), I asked how an LAPD officer could run a "make" on someone who presents the ID. It didn't surprise me that he didn't have an answer.

With no way for an LAPD officer to verify such an ID, I could only conclude that Zine and the other council members (except Hal Bernson) believe that a Sham ID is better than no ID, in spite of District Attorney Stephen Cooley's and County Supervisor Antonovich's warning to the Los Angeles County Supervisors -- who have already voted to permanently accept the IDs -- of the security risk to the public.

According to the January 15, 2002 issue of the Daily News, Janice Maurizi, a director in the county's District Attorney's Office, said that the cards give a form of legitimacy to people living here illegally. She emphasized the cards are not accepted by immigration officials and could allow criminals from Mexico to endanger public safety.

Shortly after I brought to the attention of the entire City Council that it wouldn't be long before illegals from other countries would also want to jump on the sham ID band wagon, Guatemala's Los Angeles Consulate announced in July 2002 that the Guatemalan Congress had approved a "Tarjeta de Identificacion Consular."  Then on July 25, 2002, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Polish Government was working on an identification card for Polish immigrants in the U.S. More recently, Peru, El Salvador and China's consulates are interested in having ID cards for their own nationals residing in the U.S. Is there any question that every other country including countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will also get on the unverifiable ID band wagon?

Unquestionably, the vast majority of Mexican illegal immigrants are not a security threat, but the council knows that without any kind of verifiable background check, local law enforcement cannot distinguish between a "good" illegal immigrant and a "bad" one.

But if national security is of no concern to the council, lawsuits ought to be. The acceptance of the card is in violation of federal law by encouraging illegal immigration to Los Angeles. The city and its employees could face legal liability in lawsuits from people injured by a Mexican card carrying person in Los Angeles illegally.

When the Los Angeles City Council meets shortly to decide by vote whether to permanently recognize the Matricula Consular ID Cards as valid ID, they should take public safety into consideration and vote no.
Hal Netkin is a community activist living in Van Nuys. E-mail him at [email protected]