Plan to accept Mexican ID draws fire

November 12, 2010

Tamara Gibbs

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) – Durham’s city council is getting an earful over a controversial plan to allow Mexican immigrants to use a special Mexican ID card for Mexican citizens living outside Mexico.

If approved, Durham would be the first city in the country to accept the Matricula Consular. It’s an identification card issued by the Government of Mexico through its consulate offices to Mexican citizens residing outside of Mexico regardless of their emigration status.

The card is accepted as ID by many police departments nationwide, and many banks accept it for financial transactions.

According to an opinion from the Durham City Attorney, “the official purpose of the card is to demonstrate that the holder is a Mexican citizen living outside of Mexico. It includes an official Government of Mexico issued ID number and bears a photograph and address of the Mexican National to whom it is issued.”

If Durham approves the resolution, city officials would accept it as a legal form of ID for business conducted with the city. Police officers would also accept it for identification purposes.

But some see the plan as an endorsement of undocumented workers, while others say it will save time and taxpayer money.

Mexican advocacy groups like El Centro Hispano in Durham are pushing for the idea. But since word of the plan went public, city council members have found their mailboxes stuffed with messages from people who hate the proposal.

In some of the e-mails obtained by ABC11, one person accuses Durham leaders of pandering to criminals, another fears the card will be used by terrorists, while another man writes it’s a slap in the face to bona fide citizens.

Ronald Garcia with El Centro Hispano says he thinks people are confused about what the plan really means.

“I think there’s a lot of misunderstandings out there, and I think economics plays a role in that now,” he offered.

Garcia says the high security card cannot be used to vote, access government benefits, or replace a valid driver’s license. But in the case of someone pulled over without proper ID, the card could help them avoid a lengthy legal process.

“Detaining and processing and then deporting people who haven’t really committed a crime,” he explained. “Maybe they don’t have all their papers in order, but that’s really a part of our broken immigration system.”

But critics of the plan aren’t so sure.

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