NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Matricula Consular Cards are a Bonanza for Terrorists

July 28, 2003

The House voted last week to impose common sense standards on the use of Mexico's controversial matricula consular card in the United States. The bill establishes requirements that foreign governments must meet prior to issuing the cards in the United States and authorizes the State Department -- as part of its authority to oversee the operations of foreign consulates here -- to regulate their issuance.

The matricula consular cards are issued by Mexican consulates to persons in this country who claim Mexican citizenship, regardless of whether they are in the United States illegally. The cards, which cost $29, are accepted as identification by hundreds of police departments, law-enforcement agencies and local governments.

In testimony last month before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Steve McCraw, assistant director of the FBI's Office of Intelligence, said the bureau and the Justice Department have concluded that the cards are not a reliable means of identification. According to McCraw:

  • The government of Mexico has no centralized database to coordinate the issuance of consular identification cards, making it possible for multiple cards to be issued with the same address, the same name and same photograph.
  • Mexico issues the card to anyone who can produce a Mexican birth certificate (already part of a flourishing trade in forged documents) and one other form of identity, including documents of "low reliability."

Despite some new security features, the card remains easy for criminals to counterfeit, McCraw says.

Perhaps most disturbing is the potential bonanza for terrorists afforded by the card. Federal officials have discovered individuals from many different countries in possession of the matricula consular card.

Source: Editorial, "How Mexico undermines U.S. law," Washington Times, July 25, 2003.


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