APRIL 2002
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New ID Helps Mexicans Come Out Of The Shadows

From El Diario
03/20/02

The re-issuance of the consular matriculation card as a primary form of identification to open bank accounts, announced yesterday in New York, is the latest effort by the Mexican government to broaden the benefits of millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants in this country, but it has also received criticism from anti-immigrant groups.

Starting today Mexican residents of the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will be able to process requests at the Mexican consulate here in New York City to obtain this identification in its new guise.

But beyond the change in appearance, delineated with new and more rigorous security locks designed to prevent counterfeiting, the new ID card will eventually, it is hoped, be used to obtain a driver's license.

"The ideal would be if the matriculation card could gain points to obtain a driver's license in the tri-state area," said the Mexican consul in New York, Salvador Beltran Rio.

The Mexican Consulate in New York added that the document is already accepted at Citigroup to open bank accounts, and said that it is holding "informal talks" with other banking entities, such as Chase Bank and Banco Popular.

"The idea is to have this be the norm throughout the country," said Beltran del Rio, and indicated that at this point 20 banking institutions already accept the matriculation card as a valid document to open an account.

He added that other countries rely on these identification documents and that the Guatemalan Consulate in New York will be amongst those that will be issuing them soon.

"We are holding talks now with representatives from the Departments of Transportation of the three states. It is to the benefit of all parties that everyone should drive legally," stated the consul at a press conference to present the new version of the matriculation card.

The Mexican government issues the personal identification document, which resembles a credit card, to Mexicans outside the country through its network of consulates, 48 of which are in the United States.

The requirements to obtain a five-year matriculation card are proof of Mexican nationality (birth certificate or passport), proof of address (electric or telephone bill), a photograph and a $29 fee.

Although the current matriculation card will continue to be valid, "the new version is better in appearance, is bilingual and is more secure," said Francisco Javier Olavarria, alternate Mexican consul in New York.

The re-issuing of the new matriculation card comes within the context of political and demographic changes in the United States, where purchasing power and voting within the Latino population is increasing.

This campaign coincides with president George W. Bush's visit this week to Mexico to meet with his Mexican counterpart, Vicente Fox, to restart negotiations, which were stalled after the September 11th terrorist attacks, over the eventual legalization of millions of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States.

UPSET GROUPS

The wider acceptance of these cards has upset some groups that consider them a reward for illegal immigrants.

The matriculation cards are given to both legal and illegal immigrants, if and when they have the supporting documents such as a birth certificate or passport, and proof that they live within the jurisdiction of the consulate.

"This is a document that will help them get practically everything they want", said Barbara Coe, head of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform.


Translated by Armando Reyes


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