Gallegly Bill Would Ban Mexican ID at U.S. Agencies

Rep. Elton Gallegly (R.-Calif.) is sponsoring a bill, the Identification Integrity Act of 2003 (HR 687), that would prevent federal agencies from accepting as in any way an official document the matricula consular, an ID card issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals in the U.S. that is often used by illegal aliens.

“House members are actually beginning to hear from people who are concerned about this,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.), who chairs the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and supports Gallegly’s bill. “The only thing preventing the refusal of the matricula is politics,” said Tancredo.

Identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses, are largely regulated by states, and in the past year, increasing numbers of localities and businesses have chosen to accept the matricula as a valid ID. A bill to require the state of California to accept the matricula has passed the California Assembly and is now pending in the Senate. But when the U.S. Treasury Department announced on April 30 plans to formally allow U.S. banks to accept the matricula, federal interest in the issue grew.

While Gallegly’s bill would apply only to federal agencies, Tancredo and others in Congress are not certain the federal government has the authority to directly forbid states from accepting the matricula. “A bill to do that would never pass anyway,” Tancredo said. But there are other steps Congress could take to limit the card’s use on the state level, he suggested. “We might try to attach something to a transportation appropriations bill to withhold funds from states that accept the matricula,” said Tancredo.

Craig Nelsen, executive director of Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement (FILE), differs with Tancredo on this question. “Since the Constitution gives absolute power to Congress over all immigration matters,” he told the House Subcommittee on Border Security last week, “it is unconstitutional for any local or state entity to put itself above congressional prerogatives by adopting its own matricula policy.”