The Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS) (Consular Identification Card) is an identification card issued by the Government of Mexico through its consulate offices to Mexican nationals residing outside of Mexico. Also known as the Mexican CID card, it has been issued since 1871. The issue of the card has no bearing on immigration status in the foreign country they are residing in. The purpose of the card is to demonstrate that the bearer is a Mexican national living outside of Mexico. It includes a Government of Mexico issued ID number and bears a photograph and address outside of Mexico of the Mexican National to whom it is issued.
Use in the United States
Several U.S. states, municipalities, and businesses accept the Matricula Consular as an official form of identification. Two million Mexican CIDs were issued in 2002-2003. A number of countries have followed suit including Guatemala, Brazil, and Ecuador. Other countries are considering the program, including: Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru. "Peru has specifically cited the acceptance of the Mexican CID card in the United States as a factor contributing to its interest in issuing a CID card." The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations defines consular functions to include issuing passports and travel documents, and the U.S. Department of State accepts that the issuing of CID cards is a permissible consular function.
On September 14, 2004, the United States Congress voted down a motion to prevent financial institutions from accepting consular IDs. Representative Tom Price announced that the Committee on Financial Services would be convening hearings on the methods permitted by the United States Department of the Treasury applying to the use of the Matricula Consular by banking institutions for the purposes of verification of identity.
The "FDIC says about $18 billion is wired annually from the U.S. to Mexico. Many U.S. banks have welcomed the IDs as a way to get a cut of this activity by profiting from the handling charges on the wires and increased deposits."
New Jersey Representative Scott Garrett (Republican) stated that the use of MCAS cards by illegal aliens weakens the measures established by the U.S. Congress after "9/11 to safeguard American businesses and financial institutions against fraud and abuse". U.S. law enforcement officials also cite that Matricula Consular cards are issued by Mexican Consulate without checking the authenticity of the applicant's supporting documentation. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) disclosed and reported that the Matricula Consular card is inherently unreliable and unverifiable as an identification card and is highly vulnerable to fraud, regardless of its security features. The FBI reported that because Mexico lacks a centralized database for their CIDs, they are unable to prevent an individual from receiving multiple CIDs and cannot access information about a CID applicant's identity. An FBI agent said that "Mexican consulates issued CID cards to individuals lacking any proof of identification, as long as they fill out a questionnaire and satisfy the consular official that they are who they claim to be." U.S. Federal and local drug enforcement agents have discovered that numerous non-citizen narcotics traffickers obtain Matricula Consular cards using aliases and that their use in the United States presents the U.S. with a serious criminal threat.
In a 2003 letter to the Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge by the U.S. House Chairmen of the Homeland Security Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, & Intellectual Property, it was written that the Matricula Consular "can be a perfect breeder document for establishing a false identity". They warned that criminals could exploit the cards to conceal their identity as well as launder money and write fraudulent checks. They went on to point out that any acceptance of the cards by the Federal government "compromises our homeland security" by providing an opportunity for terrorists to freely move about the U.S., board planes and transfer funds for terrorist activities.
In January 2003, Nancy Pelosi, the ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, pushed for a trial arrangement to give holders of Matricula Consular cards access to the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. Due to national security concerns, other members of congress later revoked the privilege by the summer of 2003. In response to this, Pelosi argued that the vote to restrict the use of the Matrícula Consular was "anti-Hispanic" and that "We in San Francisco know that the Matrícula Consular works". The Matricula Consular card has been embraced by the Democratic Caucus. The Mayor of San Francisco established a policy in December 2001 for the city and county of San Francisco to accept the Mexican CID as a valid form of ID. The mayor's office issued a press release stating that the card would prevent those in the Mexican immigrant community lacking an acceptable identification from being jailed or deported when committing minor offenses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture warned that the Matricula Consular card is not sufficient to determine legal immigration status nor eligibility for the U.S. Food Stamp Program. The department also advised that home addresses on these cards may not be current "given the potential mobility of this population".
Bank on California, a program launched by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2008, encourages financial institutions to accept the Mexican CID, Guatemalan CID and other CID cards as primary identification for opening bank accounts.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative research organization, argued in a research brief that the matricula is becoming a shield that hides criminal activity for two reasons: first, the holder's identity was not verified when the card was issued, and second, police in jurisdictions that accept the matricula are less likely to run background checks on card holders picked up for minor infractions. The organization found that the matricula consular is useful in the United States only for illegal aliens, since legal immigrants, by definition, have U.S. government-issued documents, and that the objective the card's supporters is to achieve quasi-legal status for Mexican illegals in the United States.
Activists opposed to illegal immigration believe that the High Security Mexican CID is subject to identity theft by even non-Mexican citizens by obtaining the Mexican IDs for U.S. citizens.
- Arthur T., Foley (April 19, 2005). "USDA memo SUBJECT: Mexico's Matrícula Consular Identification; TO: All Regional Directors and Food Stamp Program" (PDF). Washington DC: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-04-02. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Consular Identification Cards: Domestic and Foreign Policy Implications, the Mexican Case, and Related Legislation" (PDF). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service (CRS). May 26, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- "BORDER SECURITY Consular Identification Cards Accepted within United States, but Consistent Federal Guidance Needed" (PDF). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). August 2004. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- "Garrett-oped-Matricular Consular cards" (PDF). Washington DC: house.gov. January 9, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Committee Leaders Urge Curbs On Acceptance of Consular ID Cards" (PDF). Washington DC: house.gov. July 10, 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Matricula Consular ID Cards". Federation for American Immigration Reform. November 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- Cooley, James A. (April 21, 2004). "¿Quienes Son? No Sabemos. - Mexico's fake i.d. and its terrorist implications.". Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- Anti-matrícula proposal defeated (archived from the original on 2009-02-20)
- Congressional Committee (archived from the original on 2007-08-27)
- "The Matricula Consular: Big Problem". Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- FBI Testimony Before Congress (archived from the original on 2010-04-10)
- "Pelosi Statement on Matricula Consular Identification Card". Washington DC: house.gov. January 3, 2003. Archived from the original on 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Pelosi: Republican Vote to Restrict Use of Matrícula Consular Shows GOP Pro-Hispanic Rhetoric Doesn't Match Reality". Washington DC: house.gov. July 15, 2003. Archived from the original on 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Matricula Consular Restrictions Wrong for America". Washington DC: Democratic Caucus. September 15, 2004. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Latino's Struggles in the Asset Based Economy". Washington DC: Democratic Caucus. April 6, 2005. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "ID Requirements" (PDF). Sacramento, CA: Bank on California, California State Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- IDs for Illegals: The 'Matricula Consular' Advances Mexico's Immigration Agenda, Center for Immigration Studies, http://www.cis.org/MatriculaConsular-IDCards
- "Matricula Consular ID card". Marietta, GA: The Dustin Inman Society. Retrieved 2009-02-17.