The Controversial Consular I.D. Card
September 14, 2003
By Monica Bastidas
The Mexican consular identification card has
become subject to controversy. The General Consulate of Mexico
in New York City issues the controversial I.D. cards, basing their
reasoning on an international convention. While community leaders
and pro immigrant activist applaud the measure, they agree that
the card is a pretext to pressure the United States government
towards amnesty. On the other hand, conservative groups believe
that this is an issue that could threaten national security.
McCraw, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes that
the I.D cards possesses certain security concerns for the
United States due to the fact that México does not have
a centralized database to coordinate the issuing of the I.D.s.
Chino, coordinator of cultural events of Tepeyac Association, believes
that “with time the I.D card has been loosing its
validity. It is not accepted by banks and it is very easy to falsify
It is for these reasons that Chino believes that “this
is part of a process of future acknowledgement, of a possible amnesty;
otherwise there is no way of explaining the issuing of a consular
I.D. card that is not even very functional.”
the general counsel of Mexico in New York City, has a very different
opinion. He believes that the “consular
I.D. card goes further than a passport and it is based on the agreements
of the Vienna Convention on consular relations. It is a legitimate
The consular I.D. card was created
for the purpose of helping Mexican immigrants identify themselves
as such before employers and police
in another country. “This is an I.D. card that supports all
our citizens” claims Sarukhan. While the Mexican consulate
claims that it is a very secure identification document, U.S based
and Mexico based civil institutions have conducted their own investigations
to evaluate the viability and security of the card. Congressman
Elton Gallegly of California, part of a group of Republicans that
are pushing forward a measure to prohibit the use of the consular
I.D. card, believes that terrorists and countries that support
terrorism “are evaluating this program to see how they can
According to Sarukhan, however, it is impossible
to create copies of these I.D cards, thanks to eleven biometric
into the card. It also has a hologram that aids in digitizing
the information and renders it completely secure, says the diplomat.
organizations that lobby for further controls on immigration
claim that, like Mexico, countries like Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala,
Honduras and El Salvador could put in circulation their own
I.D cards for their undocumented citizens.
The New Agenda
When Vicente Fox became Mexico's president in December
2000 he promised to negotiate an agreement with George W. Bush
concerning the regularization of status for millions of undocumented
living in the United States. The attacks here in New York
City and in Washington D.C. abruptly changed that proposed
The tragedy of September 11th disrupted the possibility
of a more concrete agreement with Mexico. Before the terrorist
had sought an agreement and had tightened personal connections
with Fox, but the attacks altered this situation.
despite the controversies generated concerning its validity and
security, the development of the consular
I.D card is
well under way.
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Translated from Spanish by Valeria Treves