BUY MEXICAN CONSULAR ID CARDS
Buy Mexican Consular ID Cards, For the estimated 8.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, day-to-day life has always been precarious. Not only do they not have the legal right to live and work in America, but many cannot prove their own identity. Lack of identification prevents undocumented immigrants from accessing the few public and private services that are available to them and intensifies their fear of contact with police and other official institutions. The events of September 11 and the scrutiny of undocumented immigrants that followed deepened this anxiety. In this light, many of the estimated 4.7 million Mexicans living in the U.S. without authorization turned to a little-known Mexican government identity document called the matrícula consular.
A sharp debate on the merits of Mexican Consular ID Cards has engaged the public, political circles, the media, the private sector, immigration authorities, and law enforcement agencies. On the one hand, proponents of such programs say the cards protect immigrants, their families, and communities by facilitating their ability to open bank accounts, access some limited public services, and work with authorities to resolve crimes and other social ills. On the other hand, critics question whether undocumented immigrants should have access to such services, and assert that Mexican Consular ID Cards programs subvert U.S. policy and promote unauthorized immigration.
How this debate shapes up is likely to have significant consequences for millions of undocumented immigrants. It is also likely to have a bearing on how the United States shapes its domestic security efforts. Understanding the debate requires examining several key aspects of the Mexican Consular ID Cards programs, including the extensive Mexican program, the cards’ relationship to immigrant banking and remittances, the effect on local law enforcement, and the prospects for developing such programs for other countries.
Mexico’s Vast ID Program
Mexican consulates have issued the matrícula consular, also know as the matrícula, to Mexican citizens living abroad for 131 years. The Mexican Consular ID Cards is a way for the Mexican government to keep track of its citizens for consular and tax purposes, collect data on them, and provide them with what the government considers to be a basic human right: the ability to identify oneself.
Security of Mexico’s Matrícula Consular
The matrícula consular is available to any Mexican citizen living abroad The applicant must present a Mexican birth certificate accompanied by a photo ID issued by a Mexican government authority, such as a voter registration card, passport, military service card, or expired matrícula. If the applicant cannot provide these documents, the consulate confirms the applicant’s identity by investigating his or her background through authorities in Mexico. Additionally, the applicant must provide some proof of their address in the U.S., usually a utility bill, and that address must be within the consular district of the consulate issuing the card. T They also argue that it would be possible for a national of another country to obtain a matrícula by fraud.
Proponents suggest that the matrículas are comparable, in terms of security, to U.S. state-issued driver licenses. Sophisticated tamper-proof holograms make the cards extremely difficult to forge or modify. Soon, say supporters, the matrículas will have a security feature that driver licenses do not: Mexico is creating a computer network that will give all consulates instant access to information on cardholders.
The cards identify the holder, certify that he or she is a Mexican citizen, and give his or her birthplace and U.S. address. They cost about $29 each and are valid for five years. The cards are issued without regard to immigration status and give no immigration information. Mexicans in the U.S. legally can and do use the matrícula, particularly when returning to Mexico, but it is most useful to the undocumented because they are less likely to have passports, green cards, or other forms of identification.
While the matrículas are not new, a combination of factors converged in late 2001 and early 2002 to make the matrícula explode in popularity. First, anxiety over identification following September 11 prompted Mexicans to apply for the card in droves. In response to that anxiety and demand, the Mexican government began to market the cards through its network of 47 consulates in the U.S., and set up “mobile consulates” to issue the matrícula in communities without a consulate. The intense outreach proved effective. In 2002, Mexico issued over 1.4 million of the cards in the U.S. alone, compared to the 664,000 it issued worldwide in 2001.
In addition, the Mexican government rolled out novel strategies to make the matrículas more useful to cardholders. Beginning in early 2002, Mexico enhanced the security provisions of the matrícula and the process used to issue it. It also conducted a well-organized campaign to educate U.S. banks, police departments, and governments about the new features and encourage them to accept the matrícula as a valid form of identification. The campaign targeted two fundamental needs of undocumented Mexican immigrants: the ability to identify oneself to local law enforcement and the ability to access financial services in order to save and remit money.
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