If our homeland security department was actually going to do their job they could hang out there
ID card gives immigrants more opportunity
By TOM RAGAN
August 28, 2005
Sentinel staff writer
WATSONVILLE — There’s so much opportunity in possessing this tiny card. And such a long line to get it.
That was the case Saturday, when hundreds of Mexican immigrants lined up outside one of the community’s main health clinics, Salud Para La Gente, to obtain national identification cards from the Mexican Consulate.
Armed with birth certificates from their respective Mexican states and electrical bills and landlord leases from Salinas to San Jose, the Mexican immigrants endured the entire day in line.
And with good reason.
To the Mexican immigrant, especially the one who is in the United States illegally, the card is the key to opening bank accounts, obtaining credit with credit card companies, even paying income taxes to the U.S. government.
Yet to the state of California and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issuing such a card is of big concern.
Not only has the card been criticized for lending legitimacy to illegal immigration in California, it has come under fire for being the end-round for terrorists in a post-9/11 era.
"Obviously, Mexico isn’t our number one concern, but open borders are always a problem, and we’re not entirely convinced that the background process to determine identity and criminal background (for acquiring the national cards) are being done satisfactorily," said Gary Winuck, chief deputy director for California’s Office of Homeland Security in Sacramento.
"And I’m not just talking about Mexico," he added. "I’m talking about the 130 foreign consulates that operate in California."
The fact of the matter, he said, is that the United States has no jurisdiction over the matter.
It’s the foreign consulates, in this case the Mexican Consulate in San Jose, who set the guidelines.
Jose Loreto, deputy general consul, says the national identities are important for Mexican nationals, giving them the ability to have access to the basics of U.S. society. He said the issue of legal residency in the United States, however, is immaterial to his office.
"Whether they’re here illegally or legally, it is not our job to determine," he said.
Loreto said 70 percent of the people who apply for the card, which is about as big as driver’s license, are here illegally.
The cost is $27, and it is issued for a period of five years.
The consulate’s visit to Watsonville comes once a year, allowing those who can’t drive to San Jose the opportunity to apply for the card.
Jose Tejas Espinoza, a Watsonville resident who came to the Pajaro Valley in the spring to pick strawberries, hoped to get his hands on the ID. Before Saturday, he didn’t have any form of identification, just a rumpled piece of paper that he says is his birth certificate from the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.
"It’s real," said Espinoza. "And if I’m lucky enough to get the card, I think I’ll try to get a credit card next. That would really help me a lot."
Espinoza admits he came here illegally by crossing through the Arizona desert.
He’s one of an estimated 8 million illegal immigrants who live in the United States.
While the card may help open up services Espinoza didn’t have access to a few days ago, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement late Friday reiterating its stance: The card has nothing to do with legal status.
"And it’s important that we point this out for people who do not know: Foreign consular cards, by no means, indicate that the people, just because they possess them, are in the United States legally," said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the western region of the United States.
Residents living illegally in this country, whether they have foreign consular cards or not, are subject to arrest and deportation, Haley said.
I think the border patrol has been told numerous times to stay away from where the illegals are known to be.
This has been going on a while. It's called a matricula card and a few states have stopped letting them be used as 'official' ID.
That is the really strange part about the illegal invasion
why are our federal law enforcement ignoring the problem OPENLY?
Because it's racist to address it. Not to mention GWB loves his Hispanics.
Let me confirm it for you.
A good freind of mine is in the USBP and he has told me about getting in trouble for doing too much
I think that the real problem and it is one that we can actually do something about, is for
Americans to stop accepting the card as ID.
Or we can keep bitching at the Mexican govt. and they can keep ignoring.