Segment 1 Of 2 Next Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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CONSULAR IDENTIFICATION CARDS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JUNE 19 AND JUNE 26, 2003
Serial No. 31
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/judiciary
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
STEVE KING, Iowa
JOHN R. CARTER, Texas
TOM FEENEY, Florida
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
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JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
PHILIP G. KIKO, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana, Chairman
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
STEVE KING, Iowa
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
LORA RIES, Counsel
ART ARTHUR, Full Committee Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
NOLAN RAPPAPORT, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
June 19, 2003
ISSUANCE, ACCEPTANCE AND RELIABILITY
June 26, 2003
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE ISSUANCE AND ACCEPTANCE IN THE UNITED STATES
June 19, 2003
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress From the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Chris Cannon, a Representative in Congress From the State of Utah
The Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
The Honorable Howard L. Berman, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
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June 26, 2003
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress From the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Howard L. Berman, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
The Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Jeff Flake, a Representative in Congress From the State of Arizona
The Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
June 19, 2003
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez, a Representative in Congress From the State of Illinois
Senator John Andrews, President of the Colorado State Senate
Mr. Marti Dinerstein, President, Immigration Matters
Mr. Craig Nelsen, Director, Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement
June 26, 2003
Mr. Steven McCraw, Assistant Director, Office of Intelligence, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Ms. Roberta S. Jacobson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
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Mr. C. Stewart Verdery, Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Border and Transportation Security Directorate, Department of Homeland Security
Ms. Elizabeth Davison, Director, Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Montgomery County, Maryland
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
June 19, 2003
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Steve King, a Representative in Congress From the State of Iowa
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Letter from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
Congressional Research Service Report Submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee
Article from Rocky Mountain News Submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee
Cable from State Department
Article from Rocky Mountain News Submitted by Senator Andrews
MALDEF Statement Submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee
MALDEF Statement Submitted by Rep. Steve King as Rebuttal to Statement Submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee
June 26, 2003
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
Response to Post-Hearing Questions Submitted by Rep. Hostettler to Roberta S. Jacobson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
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THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2003
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2 p.m., in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Hostettler (Chair of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
In the wake of the attacks of September 11, the Federal Government has reassessed almost every aspect of American life to ensure that our country and its people are protected against terrorist threats. This Subcommittee has played an active role in that effort. We have learned from those attacks and from other attacks carried out by aliens in the United States over the past decade that those who have come to our country to do us harm have identified and exploited weaknesses in our law enforcement efforts generally and in immigration enforcement specifically.
In the past few months, increased attention has been directed to the law enforcement and national security implications of local acceptance of consular identification cards. By way of background, consular identification cards have been issued by foreign governments to their nationals living abroad for over a hundred years.
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Historically, foreign governments have issued these cards to enable their citizens abroad to seek consular assistance when they needed help. Since early, 2002, however, those cards have served a new purpose. This is when the Mexican Government redesigned their consular identification card known as the Matricula Consular and began promoting it for local acceptance in the United States.
Those efforts have largely been successful. To date, more than 402 localities, 32 counties, 122 financial institutions and 908 law enforcement agencies accept the Matricula for identification purposes.
Those documents are accepted for several different transactions. They can be offered as identification at the police stops, to open bank accounts, to register for local services, to qualify for subsidized housing and even, reportedly, to board airplanes.
Over the past 2 years, more than a million and a half Matriculas have been issued by Mexican Government agencies in the United States. Mexico's success in promoting its consular identification document has prompted other countries to follow its lead. Guatemala has begun to issue consular identification cards to its citizens in our country, and several other countries are planning to do the same.
As the issuance and acceptance of those documents has become more widespread, however, criticism of the documents and of domestic acceptance of the documents has increased.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 One of the main objections that has been raised against local acceptance of the cards is that such acceptance encourages illegal immigration to the United States. With limited exceptions, all aliens who are legally present in the United States possess either U.S. Government issued cards or passports, documents that are commonly accepted for many transactions. Critics have argued, therefore, that the only aliens in the U.S. Who need identification, additional identification documents, other than passports and U.S.-Government issued documents, are those who are illegally here. Many have therefore questioned why a country that expends so much energy and money to protect its borders would go to such effort to make it easier for aliens illegally in the United States to remain here.
It has also been argued that domestic acceptance of consular identification cards in the U.S. Possess a law enforcement and national security risk because the documents themselves are not reliable or secure. These critics assert that the processes that foreign governments have instituted for issuing consular identification cards are susceptible to fraud and that the stated procedures for issuance of the documents are not uniformly followed.
Critics have also argued that there are no safeguards in place to ensure that multiple cards are not issued to the same individual and that there is no centralized database of the cards that foreign government agents have issued in our country.
The lack of such safeguards is an issue because reports indicate that counterfeit Mexican birth certificates are readily obtainable. For example, in September, 2002, the largest stash of counterfeit documents in Washington State history was seized. Police and Justice Department agents found specialty papers to print Mexican birth certificates along with other documents and $10,000 worth of computer equipment.
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Because the issuance process for consular identification cards are not always followed and because the absence of safeguards on those processes, critics have argued that cards have been issued to applicants who have few, if any, identifying documents. There appears to be some merit to these claim. This Subcommittee has received credible reports about aliens who have been arrested carrying multiple consular identification cards bearing their own pictures but different names.
Of particular note is a memo sent by the Border Patrol agent in charge in Riverside, CA, to the sheriff of San Bernardino County, who was considering allowing his deputies to accept the Matricula. The patrol agent in charge explained that his office had arrested many Mexican aliens who had in their possession multiple valid Matriculas in different names. These arrestees included one known alien smuggler with an extensive criminal history found in a house with 25 of the smuggled. He had seven Matriculas in his possession, each bearing his picture and each in a different name.
In addition to concerns about the reliability and security of consular identification cards, some observers have also argued that foreign government efforts to gain local acceptance of those cards violates our national sovereignty. They assert that foreign governments should not be allowed to lobby U.S. States and localities to accept the cards, because the purpose of that lobbying is to undermine our Federal immigration laws and our national immigration policies.
They also argue that because States, localities and the Federal Government do not have access to consular information, the duty of verifying that a document is valid is improperly taken away from U.S. Authorities and given to agents of foreign powers who reside in the United States. This places U.S. Law enforcement at the mercy of those foreign governments, whose interests, particularly with respect to illegal aliens, may not be the same as ours.
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On a related note, many question whether it is proper for cities and towns in the United States to accept documents that are not regulated by the U.S. Government or the States.
In this regard, I note the Supreme Court has held that, quote, for reasons long recognized as valid, the responsibility for regulating the relationship between the United States and our alien visitors has been committed to the political branches of the Federal Government, end quote.
Congress has plenary authority over substantive immigration decisions under the article 1, section 8 clause of the Constitution giving Congress the power, quote, to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, end quote.
Given this grant of power, Congress plainly must have the ability and the opportunity to regulate any document that would allow an alien to reside in the United States.
Because there is no method for regulating issuance of consular identification cards, critics of those cards assert that there is no way to ensure that issuance procedures for the cards are followed and that cards are not improperly issued in exchange for bribes.
In light of the aforementioned concerns, a growing number of localities have opted not to accept consular identification card. In May, the State of Colorado restricted public acceptance of the documents; and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators issued a resolution stating that it was, quote, premature to recommend the use of any foreign consular ID, end quote, in issuing a driver's license or State ID.
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Because of the serious nature of the concerns that have been raised about the security and reliability of consular identification cards and the sovereignty and national security implications posed by domestic acceptance of those cards, the Subcommittee has decided to open an investigation into both the issuance and acceptance of the cards. This hearing is a critical part of that investigation.
In conclusion, I note that foreign governments have issued increasing numbers of consular identification cards in the U.S. At the same time, agents of foreign powers have expanded their attempts to seek local acceptance of those documents. Given these facts, it is incumbent upon this Subcommittee to fully explore the impact of these foreign governments' efforts on U.S. Law enforcement and on our national security and sovereignty.
I turn now to my colleague, the Ranking Member, Ms. Jackson Lee, for any opening statements she would like to make.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this hearing, as well for some of the points that I believe I heard in the course of your testimony, terminology such as local uses, State uses, and domestic acceptance. So I thank you for the opportunity to explore this in the detailed way in which we should.
I would ask at this time to be allowed to offer my opening statement and to be able to include it in its entirety in the record as I proceed.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me emphasize our purpose for being here in this Committee. As I understand it, this is a Committee that deals with the immigration policies of the Nation; and I am proud to serve on it. I am also proud to note that the 18th Congressional District in Houston, TX, is the host to the Mexican consulate office; and I have spent a lot of hours with the Consul General there, watching the proceedings and the services that are granted to those members of our community.
Mr. Chairman, I want to also acknowledge and thank you publicly for the fact that we will, in the next week, hold a hearing on the smuggling of illegal immigrants into this Nation, obviously, with a look to the northern border as well as to the southern border.
But I am likewise a member of the community that suffered a great loss with a number of individuals who died in the very tragic incident that occurred about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Many of the family members of those deceased were, of course, from the Houston area. We suffered greatly, enormous impact on families burying loved ones and memorials and also stories about those individuals who have come here simply for an opportunity.
I use that as a backdrop; and might I use just another backdrop, anecdotal story?
Mr. Chairman, I say thiswe have not had a chance to discuss thisbut I note a report that has just come out by Amnesty International discussing the treatment of children of immigrants who are detained.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 In our legislation last year, my colleague and myself, Congresswoman Lofgren, moved the handling of nonadult children who are in nonimmigrant status to be handled by HHS, Health and Human Services. I think it would be very helpful for this Committee, because of the very dire comments being made by this report, which I would be happy to share with you, that we would also like to explore how the children are being treated at this point, and maybe we can have a conversation; and I only say that because we have been working together. I think these hearings are instructive.
With that as a backdrop, however, and knowing what our role is here, again I want to emphasize that I believe that the issue is whether or not these documents are used to equate or connote immigrant status, whether in fact they bestow upon anyone an adjusted immigrant status. I think that is the question; and as we proceed in our hearings I hope that these are the questions that will be answered. I don't believeand if I pronounce it correctlythe Matricula Consular card has become or should become an immigrant issue.
The Matricula is not issued as an immigration document, and it has no immigration purpose. The Government of Mexico has been issuing Matriculas at their consulates around the world for more than 130 years. They are getting prettier. The consulars do this to create an official record of its citizens in our countries.
Matricula is legal proof of registration with the consulate so that you can be helped, your families can be helped. The consulate in Mexico wasin Houston, ratherwas particularly helpful during this tragic time when families were able to come and send messages back home on the status of their loved ones. This registration facilitates access to protection and consular services, because a certificate is evidence of Mexican nationality.
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When we had tragic incidents with an unfortunate confrontation with the police, a tragedy of police brutality, the consular was able to reach the family because of the knowledge of the individual who died. Last year alone more than a million of these cards were issued to Mexican citizens living in the United States. It does not provide immigrant status of any kind. It cannot be used for travel, employment, or driving in the United States or in Mexico. The Matricula only attests that a Mexican consular has verified the individual's identity.
Now, we do know that there have been some State jurisdictions that are very kindbut that is a State issueand they have their own guidelines in which to determine how they want to use those cards. Again, local uses, State uses, domestic acceptance have nothing to do with grant of immigration status.
The Matricula, however, does have some nonconsular uses. For instance, because it is an identification card, it provides Mexican nationals in the United States with access to banking services. Is that not better, Mr. Chairman, than moneys that can be held in places where these individuals become victims because they know their money is under a mattress or somewhere else? Isn't it better to have the banking institutions of America to be able to have these resources and, of course, to track whether or not any of these accounts are being used for illegal activities?
That is an asset to us. That helps law enforcement.
Without an acceptable identification card, many Mexican nationals in this country cannot open checking or savings accounts or use any other banking services. In 2002, Latino immigrants sent more than $30 billion to their families in Latin America. The cost of making such transfers is much higher if the person making it has to use a money-transmitting business such as Western Union or Moneygram instead of a regulated financial institution such as a bank or credit union.
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No insult to Western Union or Moneygram. Keep going. But I can't imagine banks in America turning down $30 billion of interest that they can gain while having these accounts.
Moreover, the banks and credit unions want the Latino banking business. United States banks plan to spend at least $8.5 billion through 2005 to attract Hispanic customers.
The availability of banking service is a safety issue, too. Latinos are more likely to be victims of violent crime than any other racial or ethnic group. Much of this crime relates to the perception of criminals that because Latinos do not have bank accounts they carry large amounts of cash. As a result of this problem, police departments across the country support the use of the Matricula to enable Latinos to use mainstream financial institutions as a means of reducing crime and violence.
As I look at the various witnesses, I am delighted to see Congressman Gutierrez. I know that he has long worked on these issues, particularly this card; and I would be very interested to hear his assessment of whether we go forward with this or we go backwards in our effort to either regulate or eliminate the opportunity.
In an attempt to assist efforts to destroy the financial network that supports al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, I believe the Committee on Financial Services enacted legislation to reform money-laundering laws. The enacted provisions were incorporated into the USA PATRIOT Act, and clearly these bank accounts would be a great asset to distinguish the bad guys from the good guys.
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Customer identification provisions in this Act have a direct impact on the use of the Matricula as a legitimate form of identification to allow consumers to open bank accounts. Specifically, 326 of title III adds a new subsection that requires the Secretary to prescribe regulations setting forth minimum standards for financial institutions that relate to identification and verification of any person who applies to open an account. These regulations, Mr. Chairman, permit banks to accept identification cards issued by foreign governments. The regulations went into effect, but anti-immigrant groups and some State and Federal officials had expressed opposition, but they went into effect June 9, 2003.
My good friend, Mr. Gallegly, has introduced a bill that would make it more difficult for these Mexican citizens of the United States to use these cards. In his bill, the Identification Integrity Act, H.R. 687, would prohibit the Federal Government from accepting identification documents issued by foreign governments.
I believe frankly, that this is a State Department issue. The issue deals with the consular offices. Yes, we do deal with the State Department as it relates to visas, but I believe we need to be sure that these documents, as the legislation wants to do, as issued by a foreign government, are not to be utilized like they are, which is the right thing to do. We are suggestingor he is suggesting that the passport should be the only purpose.
I raise concerns over this and hope that, as we proceed, we will find out that we have many classes of aliens applying for relief who are not required to be in possession of a valid passport and typically will not have one in any event. So these aliens who have different statuses should not be precluded from having some sort of identification. I hope that, as we proceed with this, we will find that there is a better way to address any concerns that my good friend has.
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Therefore, we need to understand that many of those who have ID cards come from places who are Canadian nationals and have many other statuses. So I hope that as we move toward this hearing we will be sincere in our intent to get information. We will find out that some cures are better than the illness and that we will hope and realize that bank accounts that can be traced are better than those who cannot be and that taking the documentation does not grant any sort of immigration status to anyone who does not have the status originally through the proper documentation.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much for your indulgence and kindness. I look forward to this hearing.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank my colleague for her opening statement.
Without objection, all opening statements can be entered into the record. But is there a Member that would like to make an oral statement at the opening?
The gentleman from Utah.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the opportunity to have this hearing today. For 130 years, the Government of Mexico has issued consular ID cards to its nationals traveling and living abroad. In recent years, the Mexican Government has made an effort to issue identification cards, called the Matricula Consular, to many of its citizens who have immigrated from Mexico to the United States.
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The statistics indicate that more than 800 law enforcement agencies and 74 banks now accept the consular ID for identification purposes. I doubt that anyone would argue that Mexico has the right to issue identity cards to its citizens, just as I doubt that anyone would argue, I think, that Government agencies of the United States have the right to determine whether to accept these cards as proof of identification or not.
The real issue before us today is whether the Federal Government should prohibit, restrict or encourage rules of these cards which are used by both legally documented and illegal immigrants. I believe we should start with the assumption that we should accept the consular ID cards as proof of identification under certain conditions.
I would propose that we ask the Department of State to work with their counterparts in other governments that are now issuing consular ID cards under certain conditions. One condition can be that the foreign consulates share their registration lists with U.S. Government officials, and another condition can be that important information contained on the consular ID cards is shared with the United States Government. Another condition could be an agreement on the standards for issuing certain types of IDs and the records relied upon to issue them. I suggest that we work in a collaborative environment to share our security concerns and work together toward more secure borders.
I am open to the debate whether this information is best shared with agencies within the Federal Government or with those in State and local governments. But I believe this is sound policy that will benefit our country as well as those individuals receiving those cards.
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I have taken time to visit with Government officials from Mexico about the security safeguards that they now implement in their identity cards. Since this panel of witnesses does not include any representatives from the countries now issuing consular ID cards or officials from the State Department who deal with the consular issues, I would encourage the Chairman and each Member of the Committee to check these things out personally.
I have firsthandor have seen firsthand that these identification cards contain modern security safeguards that are designed to prevent falsification and to ensure that law enforcement officials from both Mexico and the United States are able to determine their authenticity. In many cases, these identification cards have move security enhancements than official American documents. Each card bears a photo of the applicant, taken at the consulate, a legal address, signature and a serial number. This information can provide law enforcement officials with a readily recognizable and traceable ID.
After the tragedy of September 11, the public attention on our Nation's borders and national security has become even more focused. The more we can do to enhance the identification of immigrants and visitors traveling within our borders, the safer our society becomes. This is especially true in cases involving illegal immigrants, where law enforcement has little other information to help them in solving crimes and tracking illegal activities.
In addition to enhancing our national security, consular ID cards can deliver substantial economic benefits to both the holder of the card and to U.S. Economy in general. The card can be especially important as a means to open a bank account. I propose you examine the convenience of a bank account, something most of us here take for granted. When you open a bank account, you can carry an ATM card and not large quantities of cash. You can save money safely for an emergency or a rainy day, in a place where it can gain interest. Establishing a bank account can allow an immigrant to qualify for a loan, enabling him to purchase a car or a home, or it can provide an immigrant with a chance to invest further in the community in which he lives.
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I don't think anything would affect our economy more directly and more quickly than allowing people who are here as immigrants, legal and otherwise, to buy homes. That could literally double the new number of new homes we build a year in America.
Banks eliminate the need for costly wire transfers or other cash-based systems that can charge incredibly high rates. In addition, unbanked cash is an open invitation to crimes. Rates of muggings and burglaries are higher in societies where cash is carried. Bank accounts can also reduce the worries and anxieties of migrant farm workers who move seasonally from State to State.
The economic benefits to our own business and communities are obvious. Local banks gain more business. The savings rate in our country is improved, crime is reduced, and immigrants are more likely to make big-ticket purchases that bolster the local economy.
Throughout our Nation's history, we have succeeded in integrating immigrants into the economic fabric of our community. Some critics of the consular ID cards have objected that they grant amnesty to illegal immigrants at a time when we should be cracking down on them because of worries how they are connected to terrorism. But these cards pose no threat, no risk to our anti-terrorist efforts. Rather, the absence of identification poses a real threat.
These cards can simplify the identification of immigrants and facilitate their contact with Americans and our institutions. They should be considered a benefit to public safety, not a liability. Indeed, it seems that many law enforcement officials and agencies, over 800 as of today, are among the most vocal proponents of the use and promulgation of these cards.
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Contrary to what critics argue, the consular ID card does not change this Nation's laws relating to immigration or the amnesty of illegal aliens. This debate is not simply a domestic issue. The Mexican immigrant community in the United States is vital to the success of the Mexican economy, which in turn has a big impact on our own economic well-being.
Mexico is our second largest trading partner that buys as many of our exports as China, Great Britain, Germany and Italy combined. Besides opening a great deal of economic activity which is currently being conducted in the shadows, the consular ID cards offer us the opportunity to work with Mexico on refining immigration policies in ways that advance our mutual interests.
I would like to see the United States prohibit some uses of the Matricula card while encouraging others, but, to do so, we will have to engage the Mexican Government in a realistic dialogue on these subjects. As we continue to improve our border security, we must simultaneously seek to increase legitimate flow of investment and trade and new immigrants that are so essential to our economy and our standing in the world.
September 11 has not changed that need. We should move beyond reforms that merely increase law enforcement's power. We need to bring greater coherence and strategy to the patchwork of laws we call our immigration policies, so those who want to harm America will have fewer opportunities to do so but those who seek opportunity and freedom will have more ways to contribute to our society.
I hope we can overcome this reluctance to reform, but in the meantime that we can take a realistic look at the practices of the Mexican Government in issuing consular IDs, which may actually make our communities safer and produce more positive economic results.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back my time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank the gentleman from Utah.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sánchez.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, for holding this important hearing. I want to thank the witnesses, too, for coming here today to share their insights on the consular identification cards.
In recent months, concerns have been raised about the use of consular identification cards, and it is interesting to me that these concerns are surfacing now, since such cards have been used for many years.
Mexico, for example, has issued consular identification cards since 1871. In fact, consular registration of Mexican nationals assists Mexican consulates in complying with the functions recognized by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. In addition, as a sovereign nation, Mexico is entitled to issue such identification cards to foreign nationals. This was made clear by recent statements made by Asa Hutchinson, the Under Secretary of Border and Transportation Security.
Consular identification cards are accepted by banks, financial institutions and police officers in order to prove the bearer's identity. At least 80 banks in over 100 cities and hundreds of police departments accept the Mexican consular ID. In fact, the consular identification card is more fraud-proof than any passport or U.S.-Government-issued ID.
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Contrary to what has been said, these cards do not legalize the status of any immigrant; and they cannot be used to obtain any immigration or citizenship benefit, including work authorization or the right to vote.
Mexican consulates explain this to every applicant. Despite these facts, some Members of Congress have begun arguing that these cards should not be accepted in the United States. This approach, if taken, may be more than just unnecessary, it could be detrimental to U.S. Interests and national security.
As a party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the United States is under an obligation to comply with the nondiscrimination provisions of that Convention. Those provisions call for parity and reciprocity among parties to the Convention. The Convention specifies that better or worse treatment will not be considered discriminatory as long as the same favorable or restrictive treatment is also applied to U.S. Citizens in the, quote, unquote sending state. In other words, whatever treatment we give Mexican consuls, the same treatment will be applied to U.S. Consuls in Mexico.
So if we use high barriers to Mexican nationals who want to live, do business or travel in the U.S., then we can expect that those same high barriers will be used against U.S. Citizens in Mexico. This kind of practice unnecessarily creates difficulties for U.S. Citizens and businesses.
At the same time, I do recognize that there are concerns related to the use of the Matricula Consular. Some people worry that these cards are not in fact sufficiently fraud-proof. Others worry that accepting these cards will make life easier and more enticing for immigrants who come here illegally. And a third concern is that accepting these cards from Mexico now will set a precedent we may not want to continue when other less friendly nations try to use similar cards.
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I look forward to hearing from the witnesses, and I am hopeful that all of us will come to agree on the value of consular identification cards and the foolishness of banning their use in this country.
I thank you and yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Gallegly.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman.
I would like to have unanimous consent to have a written opening statement placed into the record subsequent to the meeting.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I would just like to make a very brief opening statement.
I was just handed a document that was placed on the table in violation of Committee rules by an organization that represents itself as the National Council of La Raza National Immigration Law Center. There may beif there is someone here that has been putting this document out in violation of rules, I would ask that they please not do that if they do have any respect for the law.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I did take the liberty, though, to read one sentence in the document that they passed out, saying how harmful this would be to legal immigrants.
I have asked many people over recent months: Who has a need for this document other than an illegal immigrant? Not a legal immigrant, but illegal immigrants and international terrorists or a criminal seeking another form of identification? And to date I don't have any explanation.
If someone is a legal resident of the United States, they have any other number of forms of identification, and they don't need this form of identification.
I think in all of my years that I have been on this Committeeand this is my ninth term in Washington, I have been on this Committee for 10 or 12 yearsI don't see any issue that is as potentially dangerous to the sovereignty, and it invites tremendous opportunity for terrorism in this country with this form of documentation. We have no control over the issuance.
I would just like to say that if there is any formanything that is positive about the issuance of this document that law enforcement would use, it would be an indication that anyone using this document as a sole source of identification is illegally in this country.
I yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman.
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The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Berman.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I understand you are having a hearing next week. If it would be permissible, with the exception of one sentence, I would like to have an opportunity to give or submit an opening statement at that hearing, rather than today.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Mr. BERMAN. I hope on this issue ideology does not triumph over common sense as we look at this question.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I have seldom seen an issue that we have considered as Members of Congress, I think, where there is such a fundamental difference on opinion on an agreed point. Because all of those who would argue in favor of the use of this consular identification card are basically arguing or saying that they are in favor of it because they want to make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in America.
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Those of us who oppose the card are opposed to it for that exact same reason, because it does make it easier for those who have broken our immigration laws to remain in the country.
So it is not very often do you get that clear-cut, fundamental difference of opinion, I don't think.
When I say it makes it easier for people to stay in the country, clearly that argues for common sense. Because when you make it easier for individuals to have bank accounts, when you make it easier for people to obtain driver's licenses and so forth, not only are you making it easier for them to stay in the country, but you are actually encouraging illegal immigration. Because the message that is sent is, come into the country, even if it is illegally, and we are going to make life easier for you once you get here. I think that that is the exact opposite message that we as Members of Congress and that the Federal Government should be sending.
The second point, Mr. Chairman, is that I just don't think it is credible for anyone to argue that these are secure documents, these consular identification cards. There is no check made on their validity. There is no check made with any database in Mexico to make sure these individuals are the people that they say that they are.
To say that they are tamperproof and that they can be duplicated, of course, ignores the real issue, which is either the use of underlying fraudulent documentation or the ability of individuals to get multiple consular identification cards. And the fact that they are tamperproof says nothing at all about how secure they are underneath that veneer of tamperproof.
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The other point to make, I think Mr. Chairman, is thatand one of our witnesses in a few minutes is going to make the point that the major banks in Mexico themselves do not use the consular identification card in any way, shape or form as a legitimate card for the bank accounts of Mexican citizens. What in the world does that say that the United States banks are now being told that it is okay to use this identification card when the banks in Mexico themselves don't use this identification card? I mean, clearly this is the world turned upside down.
I hope our Treasury Department, which initially had given an indication to the U.S. Banks that it is okay to use this card, will frankly listen to the White House concerns about homeland security. They may even want to call the White House, because to use this card does undermine our homeland security and, therefore, potentially in the future endangers the lives of American citizens.
Mr. BERMAN. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Berman, I will be happy to yield if I have some time, but I also recognize that the individual has his own time as well.
Mr. BERMAN. I just gave it up, unfortunately. Can I reclaim my time?
Mr. SMITH. I will be happy to yield.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. BERMAN. One specific point I just want to disagree or quibble with. It may be that many people support this card because they want to make it easier for otherwise undocumented people to function in this country, but it is not correct to say that the only reason people want this card is for that purpose.
The Los Angeles Police Department believes that a card that shows the address of the individual, one, encourages people to report crime, secondly, makes it easier for them, particularly if there is a language barrier, to record the address of a complaining witness or a witness to criminal events or a victim of crime than it otherwise would be.
I could go on and on with respect to different agencies' interests which has nothing to do with wanting to make it easier but allows them simply to perform their functions and their governmental functions more effectively as well as private.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. Let me reclaim my time to respond.
I am glad to hear the gentleman from California admit that a lot of individuals do use the argument that they are for the card because it makes it easier for people to stay in the country. Yes, there may be other reasons that the gentleman just gave, a couple of examples.
By and large, we are still talkingI don't know that the gentleman would want to correct thisthat at least 90 percent of the people who are using these cards are more than likely in the country illegally, and therefore we are helping a mass of individuals stay in the country, making it easier for them to stay in the country, and also sending the message that encourages, I think, illegal immigration.
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I will yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentleman yields back his time.
At this point, I would like to introduce our panel of witnesses and thank you for your forbearance. This is a very important topic, and Members have varied opinions on the topic.
First of all, Representative Luis Gutierrez is a five-term Member of the United States House of Representatives. He represents Illinois' Fourth District. Representative Gutierrez is Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Task Force on Immigration and before his election to Congress worked as a teacher, social worker and community activist. Representative Gutierrez also previously served as an alderman in the City of Chicago, a position to which he was elected in 1986. He is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University.
Senator John Andrews is the President of the Colorado Senate. He has represented Arapahoe County in the Colorado Senate since 1998. Senator Andrews serves on the Education, Finance, Judiciary and Public Policy Committee in the Colorado Senate. In addition to his legislative work, Senator Andrews runs a communications company and teaches humanities at the Colorado School of Minds. He also provides daily commentary on public television and publishes a monthly journal called Andrews America. Senator Andrews is a graduate of Principia College and served as a submarine officer in the United States Navy.
Marti Dinerstein is the President of Immigration Matters, a public policy firm which facilitates debate on U.S. Immigration issues. She is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and has published various works in the field of immigration policy. Ms. Dinerstein has over 30 years of experience in communications, marketing, management, and consulting. She has also served on numerous nonprofit and private sector boards. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and Ohio State University.
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Craig Nelsen is Executive Director of Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement, an organization for attorneys, law enforcement officers, legislators and academics concerned about the enforcement of our Nation's immigration laws. Prior to joining Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement, Mr. Nelsen served as Director of Project USA. He has been a restaurateur in New York and taught English as a second language in China. Mr. Nelsen attended New York University and St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM.
Thank the panelists once again for being here. Unanimous consent, without objection, you all may present your written testimony to the record; and you each have 5 minutes to deliver an oral testimony.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, if you can yield for a comment, I want to let the witnesses know that there are two hearings going on that I am involved inthe Select Committee on Homeland Security, as we speakand so I may be exiting. If I am exiting, it is just to attend that for a moment. Hopefully I will be able to return. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good.
Representative Gutierrez, you have the floor.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
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Mr. GUTIERREZ. Well, thank you and good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Jackson Lee and Members of the Subcommittee. It is with great pleasure that I appear before the Subcommittee today to speak about an issue of great importance to me and the community that I serve.
Let me make some general statements, as I know that many people have raised many of the issues that are in my opening remarks.
Number one, I think it makes it safer for people to live in the United States of America. It makes it safer for me to know that my neighbor can call the police if somebody is robbing my home, if somebody makes attempts against my person. It makes the community more whole. So it does make it safer to live in a community. The fact is, and I think all of the Members of the Committee know, that we have, some say 5, some say 7, others scream 10 million undocumented workers in the United States of America. That is a fact.
In the absence, Mr. Chairman, of a program, a piece of legislation, the will and the resources of this Government of ours to deport in a systematic manner 10 million possibly undocumented workers in this country, then I think we have a response also to say, what are we going to do with them while they are here?
Because if we do not have a response and we do not show the will and the purpose to deport them, which there is none, Mr. Chairman, as I have been able to see as of yet, then we are simply co-conspirators in their exploitation; and we should work to make sure that they live in safer, more humane conditions.
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The fact is that Mexico is a partner of our Nation in the war against terrorism. None of those that entered the country illegally and attacked this country on September 11 came through Mexico.
Yes, we know that the ID card, the Matricula ID card is tamperproof. It is much more tamperproof than the Illinois driver's license. But, Mr. Chairman, we could bring you testimony of many criminals, many criminals in the State of Illinois and throughout the States of this Nation that carry more than one driver's license with the same photo, with different names, and different addresses.
If we are not to accept the Matricula Consular, is the next step that we are going to take is not to accept a passport issued by the Mexican government or a passport issued by any other sovereign nation? The fact is that sovereignty is what it is.
When an American national travels abroad, that government, that nation expects us to check into the validity of that person, who he is, where he was born, and properly identify that person.
In Mexico, you don't expect to get a Mexican ID for an American national. You expect to have a passport issued by the Government of the United States of America. And, Mr. Chairman, they could very well be having those same hearings on American passports and bringing in testimony of people who have invalid drivers' licenses or illegitimately gotten drivers' licenses or other forms of ID.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Yeah, they are here. They are working. They are working at the worst jobs, the lowest-paid, most-exploited situations in our country.
You know, all of the Members of the panel, we have all slept in a hotel room and we know who made the bed and who cleaned the bathroom before we slept in that beautifully made bed and that clean bathroom. We have all eaten from a dish, and we know who is washing the dishes from which we eat from. We have all walked on beautifully waxed and polished floors, and we know who cleaned those floors. As a matter of fact, can anybody here say they haven't eaten a grape, an apple, an orange?
Seventy percent of all of the agricultural workers in the State of Washington are undocumented workers. If we say to them, we are not going to allow you to send the money back to your loved ones in Mexicobecause, let's face it, that is one of the things that Matricula Consulars allow people to do.
But one of the Members of the Subcommittee says that we are kind of forcing the banks to use this. Let me assure you, Mr. Chairman, I doubt that you can get any CEO or anyone from Bank of America or any other of the dozen banks in this countrythey are forcing them to spend tens of millions to garner the assets of these individuals into their financial institutions. It makes good sense for them to be in these financial institutions for issues of homeland security.
Why not have people establish a bank account, have that ID, know where they live and know what they do with their money? I think that helps. I think that helps.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I think this issue really is one that is kind of underlying the debate we should be having in this country; and that is, what do we do in the Nation that needs the work of immigrants, that has in the past used the work of immigrants, and that those immigrants have helped to foster the great society that we live in today?
Mexico is our partner. Listen, those millions and millions of undocumented workers, do you know what they do? They go to grocery stores, and they buy food. They rent homes. They buy cars. They create hundreds of thousands of jobs for other American citizens. And, Mr. Chairman, they send that money back to their moms and dads and their brothers and their wives back in Mexico, because that is what they do as immigrants, send the money back, billions of dollars.
Because Mexico is our second best trading partner, guess what that money means in the hands of those Mexican nationals back in Mexico? Jobs for those people who live in the United States of America. Because they purchase our goods back in Mexico. So we can look at this from a financial point of view. We can look at this from a homeland security point of view. We can look at it from a safety point of view.
The fact is that over 800 police departments accept the Matricula Consular. They like the Matricula. It gives them something to deal with.
I know we will have a lot more issues to deal with, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for allowing me to come before the Committee. I know that Mr. Gallegly and Mr. Smith and Mr. Berman and Ms. Sánchez and Ms. Jackson Lee and Mr. Cannon, all of us together, can come together with a reasonable response that takes into consideration any fears and trepidations people may have. I think that should be the goal; and I will look forward to working with you, Mr. Chairman, and the Ranking Member and all of the Members of the Committee.
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Thank you so much.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Representative.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gutierrez follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Good afternoon, Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee and members of the Subcommittee. It is with great pleasure that I appear before this subcommittee today to speak about an issue of great importance to me and to the community I serve.
It is my hope that over the course of this hearing, this subcommittee will be able to shine a light on the importance of the Matrícula Consular, debunk the misconceptions surrounding the program and put to rest some of the mischaracterizations of its purpose.
To start, let me talk for a minute about what the Matrícula Consular isand also what it isn't.
A Matrícula Consular is a laminated, tamper-proof photo ID that is distributed by Mexican consulates to their nationals living abroad. The consulates have been issuing this form of identification since 1871. In Chicago, where I live, nearly 170,000 Matrículas were issued last year and more than one million were issued nationwide.
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The main purpose of the Matrícula is to establish a registry and provide a document that proves the identity of Mexican nationals.
The Matrícula does not connote any legal status other than Mexican citizenship and it cannot be used for travel, employment, or for driving in the United States or Mexico. In fact, the Matrícula only attests that a Mexican consulate has verified an individual's identity and their home address in the United States.
And contrary to what critics may say, qualifying for a Matrícula is not an easy process. To obtain a Matrícula, an individual must present:
A Mexican birth certificate;
Another official identity document, such as a Mexican voter registration card or driver's license;
And something that proves the individual's permanent address in the United States, such as a utility bill.
And in an effort to further enhance security features, the Integral Program for the Improvement of the Consular Services started issuing a new higher security Consular ID in March of 2002. The new initiative is called the Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad, or high-tech ID Card.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The new ID card incorporates holograms and other embedded designs to make it more tamper proof.
For millions of people, obtaining a Matrícula represents the first step toward participating in our financial system and for accessing basic services that are available to others in the United States,
such as opening a bank account; purchasing basic utilities, such as phone and television services; gaining access to rental housing; for entering federal buildings; and for enrolling children in schools.
In recent years, municipalities and businesses from Los Angeles to Waukegan have begun accepting the Matrícula. Currently, more than 400 cities accept the Matrícula as a proper form of identification. Today, more than 80 financial institutions accept the Matrícula to open bank accounts, approximately 825 police departments recognize it as legal identification and 13 states acknowledge it as a means to acquire a drivers' license.
The Matrícula card has become an important tool for opening financial institutions to the unbanked. As a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, I know that having fair access to financial services is not simply a convenienceit is crucial.
When people are denied banking opportunities, they are also denied the confidence that comes with placing their hard-earned wages in financial institutions where their money will be safe and where they can earn interest and establish credit records.
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It is a win-win situation. The financial institutions can tap new customers. And the customers can gain access to fundamental financial services that were previously unattainable.
According to a recent General Accounting Office study, which I requested with the Chair of the Subcommittee, where I serve as the Ranking Member, found that approximately 55.8 million U.S. adults are currently unbanked. That means that 28 percent of all U.S. adults today do not have a bank account.
In addition, a recent study conducted by Bendixen & Associates found that 42 percent of Latin American immigrants in the United States do not have a basic bank account.
The acceptance of the Matrícula strikes at the heart of this problem. Being able to open a bank account helps protect individuals from unregulated check-cashers who often charge between 8 and 10 percent interest for every $100 being cashed.
Research shows that transfer costs for remittances are lowest when they are sent through regulated financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. For Mexicans, who last year alone sent more than $10 billion home, having an account at a regulated institution represents the opportunity to wire more money back home for their families that need it to pay for daily expenses such as food, medicines and education.
The Matrícula Consular also means more discretionary income that can be spent in local communities and neighborhoods throughout the United States. For Mexico, which receives more than one third of its remittances from the United States, wire transfers represent a key source of domestic income.
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For thousands of people, the inability to enter the banking system results in a higher cost of borrowing, a lack of access to home mortgages, an inability to invest in businesses and problems paying bills in an efficient and timely manner.
In an age of e-banking and 401(k) plans, many immigrants live in an almost ancient and archaic financial system, either getting paid in cash or crowding check-cashing stores every payday to convert checks into cash.
This translates into immigrants being increasingly susceptible to crime and theft. In other words, come payday, many of the region's Hispanic enclaves become a mugger's paradise, a community flooded with vulnerable residents walking around with large sums of cash.
Therefore, the Matrícula Consular represents a strong sense of security for those who no longer have to carry their paychecks around with them. Each payday, instead of keeping money under their mattresses, they are able to put it in a bank. And instead of carrying $10,000 with them when they travel to Mexico, they send it through a wire transfer. At the same time, these individuals are building their credit record and are able to save more money for the future.
For financial institutions, the Matrícula Consular means a thriving untapped market of potential customers who could serve as a vital base of business growth that our country so desperately needs.
In addition to its benefits to our financial markets and the economy, the Matrícula Consular also can play an important role in another pressing issue: Homeland Security.
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The program helps law enforcement officials by creating an improved system of accountability, where people aren't afraid to come out of the shadows and report crimes.
Personal accountability. Economic vitality. Financial stability. Homeland Security.
These are just four of the reasons why acceptance of the Matrícula Consular is so important.
Thank you again, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, for the opportunity to present this testimony today.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Senator Andrews.
STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN ANDREWS, PRESIDENT OF THE COLORADO STATE SENATE
Mr. ANDREWS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am glad for the opportunity to bring you a perspective from the Colorado General Assembly on this important issue and to tell you what we have done about it legislatively just this year.
There is a lot of concern in Colorado about foreign governments issuing identity documents to their citizens in this country, not that the issuance itself occurs, but our concern is that it seems to be occurring in a manner intentionally erasing the distinction between who is here legally and who is here illegally.
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We are concerned that such documents aren't secure in that they don't necessarily prove the bearer is who he says he is. We are concerned they aren't verifiable in that they don't always check out that the bearer is in compliance with U.S. Immigration law, as has been stated already.
When accepted by Government agenciesand let's leave aside banks, money transmitters, utilities and others in the private sector. When accepted by Government agencies, these documents, I believe, raise three grave public policy concerns:
First, they do undermine homeland security, because they help the bearer blend into American life, even if he may have entered this country with intent to do us harm.
Second, they undermine fiscal integrity for our State and local governments, because they give the bearer access in some cases to taxpayer resources that were intended only for the use of legal residents only.
And, third, most importantly, such documents can undermine the rule of law itself. They provide a shortcut for individuals who entered this country in disregard of our laws to enjoy the same status and benefits as individuals who took the trouble to obey our laws.
We in Colorado just believe that is wrong, Mr. Chairman. Widespread governmental acceptance of those nonsecure and nonverifiable foreign ID cards sends the message that Congress isn't serious when it enacts laws to control our borders. Maybe we were just kidding.
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If the State of Colorado or the City and County of Denver allows its agencies to accept such documents, we send the message that Federal law doesn't concern us. Secure borders, oh, those are somebody else's problem.
Because the Colorado General Assembly believes that secure borders are everyone's problem, this year we became the first State legislature to close the door on nonsecure, nonverifiable foreign ID cards for use with governmental agencies.
Again, private sector off to one side, not part of our bill. Our bill is Colorado House Bill 1224, the Secure and Verifiable Identity Act. It was signed into law a month ago by Governor Bill Owens, after months of debate in the Colorado General Assembly.
Here is what the bill does: It provides that, for identification purposes, State and local agencies in Colorado can only accept secure and verifiable documents. It defines those as documents issued by a State or Federal jurisdiction in this country or issued by some foreign jurisdiction and officially recognized by the United States Government. The best example of this is a passport.
One Member of the Committee suggested we are on a slippery slope to where foreign passports can be disallowed. I don't imagine any such circumstance. The bill doesn't refer specifically to the Matricula Consular or to any foreign ID card. It just excludes them by its definition of what is secure, what is verifiable.
For teeth, the bill provides that any official who knowingly violates will forfeit his governmental immunity from lawsuit and liability damages, and that is a strong motivator for compliance.
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There is an exception for peace officers in the normal performance of their duties. This is important. My son is a police officer. I know how important it is to law enforcement. I am with you on that, Congressman Gutierrez.
But provided that the law enforcement officer who accepts a nonsecure and nonverifiable card such as the Matricula enters all of the information in the criminal justice record, including fingerprints if possible.
When the bill was in conference, we added a provision that would have reported the data for Matricula cards collected by law enforcement officers to the INS every 60 days. We were shocked that INS officials told Colorado law enforcement, don't bother, we don't want it. That almost led to the bill being killed in conference, until we took that provision out.
So, to sum up, Mr. Chairman, these ID cards that ignore the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants have been issued by the tens of thousands by just one consular office of one country, the Mexican consulate in Denver; and a number of other countries are doing the same thing from dozens of offices all over the United States. Twenty countries are now reportedly about to get into this, all of the way from Poland to Argentina.
In the case of the Mexican consulate in Denver, we know of one man who easily obtained three Matricula cards, each bearing his picture, issued in three different names. We know there is no attempt to prove an applicant's legal residency in this country before he or she can get the card.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 We know of improper lobbying activities on the part of one consular employee in Denver that led to a formal letter of complaint from our governor.
Mr. ANDREWS. These nonsecured, nonverifiable identity cards are a bad situation, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee. It is getting more serious every day. Our House bill 1224 is one response. I hope Congress will frame similar reasonable legislation, not to say no to all the cards but to make sure we are making a bright line between legal and illegal immigrants.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Andrews follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JOHN ANDREWS
We in Colorado are deeply concerned about foreign governments issuing identity documents to their citizens in this country in a manner that tends to blur the distinction between who is here legally and who is here illegally.
Such documents are not secure, in terms of proving that a particular individual is who he says he is. They are not verifiable, in terms of checking out that the bearer is in compliance with US immigration law.
When accepted by federal, state, or local government agencies for official purposes, such documents have a negative impact on homeland security, because they help the bearer blend into American life even if he may have entered this country with intent to do us harm.
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They have a negative impact on fiscal integrity, because they give the bearer access to taxpayer resources which in many cases are intended for the use of legal residents only.
Most importantly, such documents have a negative impact on the rule of law, because they provide a short cut for individuals who have entered this country in disobedience to our laws, to gain the identical status and benefits as individuals who took the trouble to obey our laws. That's wrong.
Widespread acceptance of these non-secure, non-verifiable foreign ID cards sends the message that Congress is not serious when it enacts laws to control our borders. It says maybe we were just kidding, we didn't mean it, because our government agencies are willing to look the other way.
In the case of a state like Colorado or a city like Denver, if we allow our officials to accept such cards, it says that federal law is of no concern to ussecure borders are someone else's problem.
The Colorado General Assembly doesn't believe that, Mr. Chairman. We believe that secure borders and are everyone's problem. This year we became the first state legislature to close the door on non-secure, non-verifiable foreign ID cards. What we did should become a model for legislation by many other states and ultimately by this Congress.
Colorado House Bill 1224, the Secure and Verifiable Identity Document Act, was introduced this January by Rep. Don Lee in the House and sponsored by me in the Senate. It passed both houses on May 1 and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Owens on May 22.
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The bill provides that for identification purposes, state and local agencies shall accept only secure and verifiable documentswhich it defines as documents issued by a state or federal jurisdiction in this country, or issued by some foreign jurisdiction and formally recognized by the United States governmentsuch as a foreign passport. The bill makes no specific reference to the matricula consular or similar foreign ID cardsit simply excludes them by the above definition.
The bill provides that any official who knowingly violates it will forfeit his governmental immunity. An exception is made for peace officers in the performance of their duties, provided that when accepting a matricula or other non-secure ID card, they enter all information into the criminal justice record, including fingerprints if possible.
This provision led to a disturbing episode while the bill was in conference in April 2003. We wanted to write as strong a law as possible, without impeding the work of law enforcement. My son is a police officer, and I know how they hate needless paperwork. But the conference committee did add a federal reporting requirement, so that matricula card data would be forwarded in bulk from local police or sheriffs to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service every 60 days.
Law enforcement lobbyists then set out to kill the bill unless that requirement was eliminated. They said the INS did not want the data, had no use for it, nowhere to even keep it. Mr. Chairman, I was shocked by this. I was offended. I really expected better from our federal immigration authorities, two years after 9/11. But I had no choice but to remove the INS reporting requirement from the bill in order to save it.
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ID cards that ignore the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants have been issued by the tens of thousands by just one consular office of one country, the Mexican Consulate in Denver. Mexico has over 40 other offices across the United States, doing the same thing.
At least five other countries are now reportedly issuing or preparing to issue similar cardsranging all the way from Poland to Peruas well as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
In the case of the Mexican Consulate in Denver, we know of one man who easily obtained three matricula cards, each bearing his picture but issued in three different names. We know that no attempt is made to prove an applicant's legal residency in this country before the card is issued. We know of improper lobbying activities on the part of a consular employee, leading to a formal letter of complaint from the governor of our state.
These non-secure, non-verifiable ID cards are a bad situation, Mr. Chairmana serious problem that is getting more serious every day. Colorado's House Bill 1224 is one step toward correcting the problem. I urge the committee to draft federal legislation along the same lines. We owe that to the American people.
See full text of Colorado House Bill 1224 attached, or online at: http://www.leg.state.co.us
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank you, Senator Andrews, and I can tell you that the Chair is very disconcerted by the knowledge that in attempting to work with Federal authorities on immigration policy with regard to consular ID cards, you were essentially rebuffed. It will be a subject of an inquiry that I will have of the new bureau. I thank you for that information.
STATEMENT OF MARTI DINERSTEIN, PRESIDENT, IMMIGRATION MATTERS
Ms. DINERSTEIN. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Jackson Lee and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to appear before you to discuss whether Government entities and businesses should treat the consular card issued by foreign governments as valid identification within the United States. I strongly believe that to do so only undermines U.S. Immigration lawI am sorry, not only undermines immigration law but is also a potential threat to our homeland security.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The events of 9/11 showed all too clearly that our core identification documents need to be more secure to ensure that only people lawfully residing in the U.S. have access to them. However, positive developments in that regard are being undercut by an identity card, the Matricula Consular being issued by the government of Mexico. Mexico has done this for many years and its purposes have been totally benign. It has wanted it for consular registration, and no host government, including the U.S., had any problem with it. But recently Mexico decided to imbue additional benefits to the Matricula cards for the benefit of their citizens residing here illegally, and they wish it to be accepted by U.S. authorities for the express purpose of providing a very illegal benefit.
For Mexico to win widespread acceptance of the Matricula Consular as a substitute for U.S.-issued identification, it had to convince Government authorities that it is a secure identity card. So the face of the Matricula was redesigned to make it bilingual and to include a local U.S. address. Several features to deter counterfeiting were also embedded.
However, my research revealed that the Matricula is not a secure identity document. The goal of a secured identity document is one person, one identity, one card. The Matricula does not meet the latter two standards. To be truly secure, so-called breeder documents used to obtain an ID must be matched against some other data that corroborates the information.
A Mexican birth certificate is the principal document being used to obtain a Matricula. Press reports indicate that it and other documents are being cross-checked against computerized records in Mexico. They are not. The manner in which consular cards are being issued basically guarantees that no authentication will take place. Matriculas are issued on a same day basis, often from remote locations without the kind of sophisticated communications needed to authenticate breeder documents in an online, real-time environment.
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The Matricula also fails to meet the standard to ensure that nothat one person is issued no more than one card, since no system is yet in place to access data in all 47 Mexican consulates that issue Matriculas.
But even if these significant security shortcomings were to be addressed in future years, there is one profound problem that will never go away. Only Mexico has access to the breeder documents used to obtain the Matricula and some supplementary information that they require that is not displayed on the card. This renders U.S. law enforcement impotent to conduct a thorough background investigation if a Mexican national whose only identification is a Matricula card commits a serious crime while in America.
Mexico has engaged in a grass roots lobbying campaign that has borne fruit. As the Chairman mentioned, this month Mexico announced that the Matricula is accepted by 402 localities, 32 counties, 122 financial institutions and 908 law enforcement offices. Mexico's aggressive lobbying has become a direct challenge to U.S. sovereignty. It changes America's de facto immigration policy, a right reserved only to Congress.
Predictably, the success of Mexico's efforts has had the effect of prompting other countries to follow suit. The governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Poland and Peru have begun or are considering issuing cards of their own. More countries could follow, including some that the U.S. believes have been harboring terrorists. It is in these governments' interest for their nationals residing here illegally to remain and to continue remitting money back to their home countries often where it is sorely needed. It is in America's interest to control our borders and enforce our immigration laws.
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Accepting a consular identity card from any country further erodes our ability and incentive to control which foreign nationals can enter and live here permanently. The acceptance of consular identification cards has profound implications for U.S. immigration policy and our homeland security.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Dinerstein follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARTI DINERSTEIN
Good afternoon, Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee and members of the Subcommittee. I'm pleased to appear before this subcommittee to speak about an issue with important ramifications for homeland security and U.S. immigration policy.
SECURE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS ARE ESSENTIAL TO HOMELAND SECURITY.
Before 9/11, America was in many ways an innocent nation. We expedited visas to those who wished to study here, made tourist and work visas readily available and welcomed those who wished to emigrate permanently. Indeed, we even were heading toward a ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy, where people in the country illegally were tacitly permitted to remain to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Post 9/11, we realized that we had been too permissive in our open-handed visa policy, negligent about monitoring the timely departure of visa holders and culpable in failing to protect our borders end enforce our immigration laws.
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We also received a wake-up call that something must be done to protect America's core identity documents. The American people were shocked to learn that 18 of the 19 terrorists possessed either state-issued or counterfeit driver's licenses or ID cards, and all 19 had obtained Social Security numberssome real, some fake. Possession of these documents permitted the hijackers, at least three of whom were here illegally on 9/11, to seamlessly meld into our society and freely move throughout the country.
Many states tightened the procedures by which foreign nationals obtain driver's licenses and ID cards and some moved to make legal residence one of the requirements for a license. Congress was quick to call the INS, State Department and Social Security Administration to task and press for immediate programs to rectify gaping holes in our issuance of identification documents.
Indeed, the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, passed overwhelmingly by Congress, specifically addressed two areas of weakness with respect to America's identity documents.
Concerned that some of the terrorists had obtained commercial driver's licenses to transport hazardous materials, Congress mandated that no commercial license be issued without a check of the relevant criminal history databases and, in the case of an alien, a determination of his or her legal status in the United States.
Similarly, Congress directed the Treasury Department, in consultation with regulatory and other agencies, to study and provide recommendations for enhancing the ability of domestic financial institutions to verify the identity of foreign nationals.
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Ironically, however, these positive developments are being undercut by an identity card issued by the government of Mexico, the specific intent of which is to gain privileges and benefits previously reserved for citizens and legal immigrants for an estimated five million Mexicans residing illegally in the U.S.
MEXICO'S CONSULAR ID CARD IS NOT SECURE AND VERIFIABLE.
Mexico has issued the matricula consular since 1870 to its nationals living abroad in case they had need of consular assistance. It's purpose and use was totally benign and of no concern to any host country, including the United States.
But after 9/11, our tolerance for permitting illegal aliens to reside in the U.S. abated considerably, coupled with a new-found determination to increase the reliability of U.S.-issued identification documents. This environment made it likely that life would become more difficult for millions of Mexican citizens residing here illegally. But, Mexico needs them to continue to live and work here and send a large portion of their earnings back home. Remittances to Mexico totaled $10 billion in 2002money that has become essential to its faltering economy.
So Mexico decided to try to win widespread acceptance of the matricula consular as a substitute for U.S.-issued identification. To accomplish this it had to convince local, state and federal government agencies and U.S. business entities that the matricula is a secure identity document.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The face of the matricula was redesigned to make it bilingual and to include a local U.S. address. Recognizing that America wanted more secure identity documents, Mexico added several features to prevent counterfeiting. However, my research revealed that while those counterfeiting safeguards certainly improve the card's reliability, the matricula is not a secure identity document.
The goal of a secure ID card is one person, one identity, one card. The matricula does not meet the latter two standards.
''BREEDER'' DOCUMENTS USED TO OBTAIN THE CONSULAR ID ARE NOT AUTHENTICATED.
To be truly secure, so-called breeder documents used to obtain an ID must be matched against some other data that corroborates the information.
A Mexican birth certificate is the principal document being used to obtain a matricula. Press reports indicate that it or other documents are being crosschecked against computerized records in Mexico. They are not.
The breeder documents are not being electronically scanned at the Mexican consulates that issue matriculas. Instead, paper files are kept. So, there is no computerized data to crosscheck anything with in Mexico.
Also, the manner in which the Mexican consular cards are issued basically guarantees that no authentication will take place. Matriculas are issued on a same-day basis, often from remote locations with no sophisticated communications equipment. For example, in April, the Chicago-based Mexican consulate issued 1,500 matriculas in only two days at the offices of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation.
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To authenticate breeder documents in an on-line, real time environment, the following would be needed:
dedicated data lines and multiple layers of communications security
almost instantaneous confirmation or declination of the documents
sophisticated interface programming
communications technology and support at each consulate
The price tag would easily be in the tens of millions of dollars. What is really happening is that Mexico is relying on staff members in the 47 consulate offices to visually authenticate the documents.
SAFEGUARDS NOT IN PLACE TO PREVENT MULTIPLE ISSUANCE OF MATRICULA TO ONE INDIVIDUAL.
Without safeguards to prevent multiple issuance, the matricula also fails to meet the standard to insure only one card for one person.
Concurrent with the issuance of each new matricula, a digital file of the photograph, signature and data elements is created. That file needs to be transmitted either to a central database in Mexico or on some networked basis to all the other 47 consulates to insure that no more than one card has been issued to that one person.
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In its discussions with law enforcement and motor vehicle officials, Mexico has indicated it was building this network. But it it's not ready yet. Everyone seems to think it will become a reality and it's just a matter of time. But in this case, timing is everything.
Well over one million matriculas issued before 2002 are still valid and in circulation. They have no security features whatsoever. Mexico issued over one million of the improved matriculas in 2002, with no system in place to authenticate breeder documents or safeguard against duplicate issuance.
Fraud is occurring. To use just one example, the INS in Denver arrested a man who was carrying three different matriculas. All had his photograph, but three different names.
UNDERLYING IDENTITY DATA OF MATRICULA HOLDERS BELONGS TO MEXICO, NOT THE U.S.
Beyond normal concerns related to issuance of any secure and verifiable identification card is the troubling problem that all of the data collected to issue the matricula is owned and controlled by Mexico.
There is the possibility of graft within Mexico's 47 consulate offices. No country is immune from corrupt employees who sell identity documents for cash. But in Mexico corruption is endemic and is common throughout the government. Low-paid consular staff might succumb to bribes and provide matriculas to OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) engaged in drug or human smuggling or terror financing activities. These employees would be covered by diplomatic immunity.
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Finally, there is the profound problem that only Mexico has access to the breeder documents used to obtain the matrticula and some supplementary information Mexico requires that is not displayed on the card itself. This renders U.S. law enforcement agencies impotent to conduct a thorough background investigation if a Mexican national whose only identification is a matricula card commits a serious crime while in America. Contrast this to the situation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the U.S. was able to assemble significant information about the hijackers because each had to provide information on a U.S. visa and their entrance and exits from the country were recorded by customs officials.
MATRICULA BLURS THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN LEGAL AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
Mexico's strategy is to win acceptance for the matricula through a grassroots lobbying campaign at the local and state level. These efforts have borne fruit. This month Mexico announced that the matricula is now accepted by 402 localities, 32 counties, 122 financial institutions and 908 law enforcement offices.
Whenever challenged about the propriety of these lobbying activities, Mexico repeatedly emphasizes that a matricula is simply an identity card and does not change anyone's immigration status. Thankfully, that is truebut it comes close to achieving the functional equivalent.
The matricula is changing the lives of undocumented Mexicans, making it far more likely that they can remain here undetected and receive a type of immunitynot just from their illegal presence but for crimes committed on American soil. In localities where the matricula is accepted, it:
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has reduced the chances that illegal Mexican aliens will be arrested, jailed or deported
given them entree to mainstream banking services
provided access to city and state services and privileges, including in-state tuition rates denied to military families posted temporarily in a state.
in some states gained them access to exactly the same driver's licenses as those carried by American citizens.
Mexico did not confer those privilegeslocal governments and entities within the United States did.
MATRICULA HAS BECOME A BADGE OF PROTECTION FOR MEXICAN ILLEGALS.
Local police in communities with a large number of Mexican illegal aliens have been willing to accept the matricula because some identification is better than none. The ground rules seem to be that no arrests will be made for minor infractions. This means that no background checks are run. No fingerprints are taken. No criminal databases are checked.
For Mexican citizens who posses one, the matricula has become a shield that hides any past criminal activity. But criminality is rampant in Mexico and, inevitably crosses our porous border. This is particularly true for drug traffickers, but also for money launderers and human smugglers, who have recently been linked to organized crime in Mexico. Given the free pass that local police are giving to matricula holders, it is highly likely that Mexican criminals, irrespective of their legal status, obtain one from their consulate office.
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Mexican illegals also routinely commit crimes related to their illegal status. These include fraudulently obtaining U.S. birth certificates, Social Security numbers and driver's licenses; engaging in sham marriages and other strategems to obtain legal status; using fake U.S. immigration documents to receive government benefits; repeatedly crossing our border without permission, etc.
Some local police believe it is not their job to enforce federal immigration law. But for the police to ignore federal immigration law is tantamount to subverting it. Foreign residents living here lawfully have U.S.-issued documents. If in accepting the matricula, an identity document needed only by illegal aliens, local police are failing to conduct background checks, they are abdicating their law enforcement responsibilities and putting their community at risk.
This point was called into stark relief last month when Eugene, Oregon police stopped a Mexican national for a traffic infraction. A background check revealed that he had a criminal history including arrests and convictions for drugs, burglary, kidnapping and assault. He also was on the Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement's ''most wanted'' criminal aliens list, having absconded after being ordered deported. Presumably, he would not have been captured by any of the 908 local law enforcement offices that are ''accepting'' the matricula.
A DRIVER'S LICENSE SERVES AS OUR DOMESTIC PASSPORT.
All illegal aliens prize a license because it is the most widely accepted identity document in America.
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It is an unfortunate reality that in many communities, a substantial percentage of the population is Mexican illegals. This makes it difficult for elected local and state officials to ignore entreaties that illegals need driver's licenses to get to work in order to support their families. It is a topic that has occupied many state capitals in the last two years. Twelve states currently accept the matricula as identification to obtain a license. But efforts are unceasing to increase that number.
In a positive sign, in May the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, with representatives from all 50 states, after careful study made a decision that it was ''premature'' to accept the matricula as part of its list of documents recommended for use by Department of Motor Vehicle employees.
It is concerned that the matricula lacks standardized issuance procedures, uniform security features and a secure database for verification purposes. In addition, AAMVA endorsed a standard that no foreign documents other than passports, in conjunction with proper immigration documents, be used to validate legal presence.
Contrast the responsible stand of AAMVA to protect the security of driver's licenses with that of a U.S. government agencythe Internal Revenue Service. Most states that accept the matricula as ID for a driver's license do so because the state also allows the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to serve as a substitute for a Social Security number.
IRS KNOWS THE ITIN IS UNVERIFIED BUT HAS NOT STOPPED ITS USAGE AS IDENTIFICATION.
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As background, in 1996 the IRS, a division of the Treasury Department, began issuing ITINS as a way to encourage illegals, who are not eligible for Social Security cards, to comply with U.S. tax laws. In its publications, website and forms, the IRS makes clear that the ITIN is ''for tax purposes'' only. Perhaps because of its perceived limited purpose as a tax tracking number, the IRS made little or no effort to authenticate the documents presented by foreign nationals to obtain the ITIN.
This laxness led to a stampede of U.S. illegal residents from nations all around the world applying for ITINs. The IRS has issued 6 million ITINs since 1996, but, strangely, only 2 million were used for the purpose of filing U.S. tax returns. It is assumed that individuals who receive an ITIN and do not file taxes are using it as official U.S. government identification to obtain bank accounts, government services andominouslydriver's licenses.
Belatedly, at the end of 2002 both the Treasury Department and the IRS threw up strong warning signals that the ITIN cannotor should notbe accepted as an identification document. Treasury said in its report to Congress on the USA PATRIOT Act that the ''the IRS does not employ rigorous identification verification procedures.'' Similarly, the IRS announced that as of April 15, 2003 it would require more identity documentation from ITIN applicants, including proof of their alien status.
In response to a question this week, an IRS spokesman said: ''The ITIN was created solely for tax administration purposes. The ITIN was never intended to be a supplemental identification document for purposes other than filing a tax return.'' However, the IRS has issued no public statement confirming that the foreign documents used to obtain an ITIN are not authenticated and, therefore, the ITIN is not a reliable identification document. Such a statement would lead state motor vehicle bureaus to exclude the ITIN from their list of acceptable documents. It is highly unlikely that illegal residents would be able to obtain a driver's license in any state based solely on possession of a foreign government-issued consular card.
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THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT HAS TACITLY ENCOURAGED BANKS TO ACCEPT THE MATRICULA.
A relatively small number122 out of over 9,000 federally-insured financial institutionsare accepting matriculas to open accounts. Even this small number is a remarkable occurrence, as all legitimate financial institutions are regulated and must meet guidelines set by their regulators to ''know your customer.''
It appears that banks are accepting the matricula consular because Mexico requested the State and Treasury Departments' help to help find ways to reduce the cost of remitting money to Mexico. It also was interested in U.S. financial institutions undertaking a program to ''bank the unbanked.'' Since Mexican illegals possess none of the usually accepted ID documents, the Treasury Department gave its tacit approval for financial institutions to accept the matricula instead.
In fact, it did so in a report to Congress dealing with the secure identification requirments mandated by the USA PATRIOT Act, where it said the ''proposed regulations do not discourage bank acceptance of the ''matricula consular'' identity card that is being issued by the Mexican government to immigrants.''
This is ironic as Mexican banks do not hold the matricula in high regard as an identity document. No major bank headquarters in Mexico lists the ''matricula consular'' among the several official identification documents they accept to start accounts. In fact, according to a Mexican government press release, as of the end of 2002, the matricula was being accepted as an identity document for any purpose in only 10 of Mexico's 33 states.
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Especially in the context of the PATRIOT Act and our focus on homeland security, it is difficult to comprehend why Treasury would give comfort to an identity card being offered by a single foreign government, as it could be predicted that other foreign governments would demand the same treatment.
ACCEPTANCE OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENT CONSULAR CARDS HAS PROFOUND IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY AND HOMELAND SECURITY.
The proliferation and acceptance of foreign government consular cards as a substitute for U.S.-issued identification endangers our homeland security. In addition to Mexico, the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, Poland, Peru and El Salvador have begun or are considering issuing cards of their own. More countries could follow, including some that the U.S. believes have been harboring terrorists.
Public opinion polls for decades have shown that while the American public supports legal immigration, it is opposed to illegal immigration. Obviously, the events of 9/11 only strengthened the intensity of these opinions.
The reason why government want acceptance of their consular cards is to make it easier for their foreign nationals residing illegally in the U.S. to ''come out of the shadows.'' It is in these governments' interest for their illegals to remain in the U.S. and remit money back to their home countries.
It is in America's interest to control our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Accepting a less than secure identity card from any country further erodes our ability and incentive to control which foreign nationals can enter and live permanently in the U.S. It has profound implications for U.S. immigration policy and our homeland security.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you Ms. Dinerstein.
STATEMENT OF CRAIG NELSEN, DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT
Mr. NELSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee. I want to thank you for this opportunity to summarize the very serious legal and political reasons why no U.S. Institution should accept any consular ID cards, including the Mexican Matricula Consular, issued by foreign governments to their nationals illegally residing in the United States.
First, since the Constitution gives absolute power to Congress over all immigration matters. It is unconstitutional for any local or State entity to put itself above Congressional prerogatives by adopting its own Matricula policy.
Second, under section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act it is a Federal crime to encourage an alien to reside illegally in the United States. Most Americans would agree that a local or private policy that explicitly recognizes an identification card carried by illegal aliens, especially for the disbursement of public services or for financial gain, obviously encourages such alien to remain illegally in the United States.
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Third, it is our opinion that a public entity exposes itself to civil liability suits if it adopts a policy to accept a card. Imagine a scenario in which an illegal alien is stopped by a police officer in a city or State that recognizes the Matricula Consular. Say the alien presents the card, the officer accepts it and then by policy releases the alien back into the general public rather than turning him or her over to the proper authorities. If the illegal alien then commits a violent crime against an American citizen or a legal resident, the victim of the crime may have grounds to sue the city or State for knowingly and with reckless disregard contributing to a dangerous situation.
Aside from these serious legal concerns, acceptance of the Matricula card is politically objectionable because it reinforces widespread flouting of U.S. Immigration laws. In a world in which there are nearly 5 billion people living in countries poorer than Mexico, the United States must become serious about enforcing our laws on immigration. If U.S. Institutions are allowed to accept Mexican IDs from illegal aliens, it is not hard to predict that other countries will soon follow Mexico's lead, and some already are. American policymakers need to think carefully about where this slippery slope is leading us.
I was once an open borders advocate. In my twenties I even wrote an article published in a newspaper in New York in which I called for open borders. I also owned restaurants in Manhattan's East Village and I saw nothing wrong if some of the workers crossed the border illegally. But my experiences in the restaurant industry in New York City and during a 2-year stint living in China convinced me that my open borders were shortsighted, selfish and naive. I came to recognize the slippery slope down which our country is heading.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I became so concerned that I did more than just talk. I got out of the restaurant business, started an immigration reform organization to try to help raise awareness of the long-term consequences of open borders immigration.
Polls show that that awareness has been raised. A recent Roper poll found that 85 percent of Americans want local police to enforce immigration laws. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe persons who open bank accounts should be required to show legal presence in the United States. It is therefore unbelievable that, contrary to the overwhelming desire of the American people, 800 or more police departments and a large segment of the banking industry now accept the Matricula Consular from illegal aliens.
Proposed Treasury regulations recently issued are another affront to the American people. The regulations, if they are allowed to stand, will permit U.S. Banking corporations to put profits above the public good, and using foreign consular IDs to open accounts continues to help illegal aliens remain in the United States. If these regulations go into full effect, we will be faced with the remarkable spectacle of having a Government in which one agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is charged with deporting illegal aliens while another, the Treasury Department, is allowing them to open bank accounts.
Mexico makes the outrageous claim that the Matricula card is more secure than American IDs even though there is no way any American law enforcement officer or bank officer can verify any of the information found on the Mexican ID card.
On the other hand, by the end of this year, every State in the Union will have implemented on its driver's licenses and State IDs the Intelli-Check system, a process by which American law enforcement officers can instantly verify the validity of any identification card issued by any other State.
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In other words, while States are moving rapidly to tighten identification procedures in the wake of 9/11, there is a rush by some policymakers and corporate profiteers to actually loosen identification standards.
In closing, while Mexico and Nicaragua, Syria, Pakistan and China and every other country in the world have the right to issue whatever cards they want to their nationals, there is no reason that the U.S. Government should recognize them. In fact, recognition of illegal alien ID cards by U.S. Entities is legally impermissible, is a threat to national security, and is irresponsible public policy.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Nelsen follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CRAIG NELSEN
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee:
Thank you for this opportunity to address the very important issue of whether U.S. institutions should be accepting or recognizing identification cards issued by foreign governments to their nationals illegally residing in the United States.
It is the opinion of Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement that no American public entity or government agency should accept any foreign or consular-issued ID card for the purpose of disbursing public services normally reserved to American citizens, or those legally present in the country. Nor should any private institution establish any commercial relationship with foreign nationals based in whole or in part on the information contained on such cards.
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The reasons U.S. institutions should not accept foreign consular or similar ID cards fall into two categories: First, there are serious legal objections to their acceptance; second, there are serious political objections to their acceptance. While these legal and political objections hold true for all foreign-issued ID cards, hereafter, I will speak specifically of the Mexican matricula consular card, because Mexico has been by far the most aggressive foreign nation in issuing the card to its nationals living illegally in the United States, and in pressuring local U.S. governments to accept its ID card as a way to provide illegal aliens access to public services.
There are three legal objections to any policy that sanctions acceptance by U.S. institutions of the matricula consular in the United States: Such a policy is a violation of the Constitution, it is a statutory offense, and it exposes public entities and private institutions to civil liability risks.
First, since the Constitution gives absolute power to Congress over all immigration matters, it is unconstitutional for any local or state entity to put itself above Congressional prerogatives by adopting its own matricula policy.
Second, by Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, it is a federal crime to encourage an illegal alien to reside illegally in the United States. We think most Americans would agree that a local or private policy that explicitly recognizes an identification card carried by illegal aliensespecially for the disbursement of public services, or for financial gainmanifestly violates that law.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Third, it is our opinion that a public entity exposes itself to civil liability suits if it adopts a policy to accept the card. Imagine a scenario in which, say, an illegal alien is stopped by a police officer in a city or state that by policy recognizes the Mexican illegal alien ID card. Imagine that the alien presents the card, but, rather than delivered to the proper immigration authorities, is subsequently released back into the general public. Imagine the illegal alien then commits a violent crime against a resident of that jurisdiction. We believe the victim of the crime will have grounds to sue the city or state for knowingly, and with reckless disregard for the illegal status of the criminal, contributing to a dangerous situation. We believe a jury would probably award damages to such a plaintiff.
In the case of a bank, or other commercial enterprise that profits by accepting a matricula card, the enterprise is liable under the Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for damages caused to the bank's competitors by the illegal activity. A violation of the INA is a predicate offense under RICO. Continuing acceptance of the card establishes a pattern of racketeering activity. To succeed in a RICO suit, a plaintiff competitor must show that an injury was suffered and that the criminal activity was the cause of the injury. A competitor of a bank accepting the matricula ID will be able to make such a showing. By unlawfully accepting the matricula ID, a bank is gaining additional customers and revenue not available to the law-abiding competitor. Since, under proposed new Treasury regulations, it will be easy to document the number of customers that open accounts with a matricula ID alone, the damages to the competitor will not be too speculative to determine. This documentation will also show causation, since it will indicate the amount of illegal business gained at the expense of competitors.
Furthermore, aside from these serious legal concerns, acceptance of the matricula card is simply irresponsible policy because it reinforces widespread flouting of U.S. immigration laws, since, as has been openly admitted by all sides, only illegal aliens have need of the card.
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In a world in which there are nearly five billion people living in countries poorer than Mexico, the United States simply must become serious about enforcing immigration laws. Rather than encouraging foreign nationals to remain illegally in the United States, we should be humanely, but firmly, helping them return to their home countries.
If illegal aliens from Mexico are allowed to use Mexican-issued ID cards in the United States, it is not hard to predict that other countries will soon follow Mexico's example. Indeed, we have included in our packet for today's hearing a copy of a memo from the government of Nicaragua to our State Department asking State to help Nicaragua set up its own matricula policy. The Nicaraguan memo explicitly states that it is of no concern to the government of Nicaragua whether those receiving the card are illegal aliens. In other words, Nicaragua is asking our government to help Nicaraguans break our laws. American policy-makers need to think carefully about where this slippery slope is leading us. If U.S. entities accept Mexican ID cards from Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, why not Nicaragua? Or Peru, for that matter? Or Iraq? Or China? Or Saudi Arabia? We Americans need to ask ourselves what, ultimately, we are to become as a nation: A huge, overcrowded, balkanized aggregate of strangers? A free-for-all of foreigners? A huge, cheap labor camp divided into large, unassimilated communities literally identifying with foreign, often hostile, nations?
Mexico deserves special censure for the aggressive way in which it has pushed local governments into accepting its illegal alien ID card. Mexico, like the United States, is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and as such, has promised not to interfere with the internal political affairs of the United States. But, Mexico has openly boasted that its well-coordinated campaign to achieve widespread acceptance in the United States of the matricula card was a ''bottom up'' way to do an ''end run'' around the Congress of the United States, subvert the laws of the American people, and achieve a massive de facto amnesty for millions of their citizens illegally residing in the United States.
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We Americans want our immigration laws enforced. A recent Roper Poll found that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans want local police to enforce immigration laws. Seventy-five percent of us believe persons who open bank accounts in the United States should be required to show legal presence. It is unbelievable that, contrary to the overwhelming desire of the American people, 800 police departments in the United States now accept foreign issued ID cards from illegal aliens, rather than enforce immigration law, and our banking industry is rushing to open bank accounts for them.
Proposed Treasury regulations recently issued are another affront to the American people. The regulations, if they are allowed to stand, will permit U.S. banking corporations to put profit above the public good and open bank accounts for illegal aliens. If these regulations go into full effect, we will be faced with the remarkable spectacle of having a government in which one agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is charged with deporting illegal aliens, while another, the Treasury Department, is allowing them to open bank accounts.
Furthermore, as was demonstrated all too clearly on September 11, 2001, inattention to U.S. immigration laws can have devastating consequences. It is simply a betrayal of the public trust for any Federal agency, or public official, to take any action that makes it easier for foreign nationals, terrorists, or ''garden variety'' criminals to operate more easily in the United States.
In closing, while Mexico, Nicaragua, Syria, China, and Pakistan have every right to issue whatever cards they want to their nationals, there is no reason the U.S. government needs to recognize them. In fact, recognition of illegal alien ID cards by U.S. entities is both legally impermissible, and extremely reckless and irresponsible public policy.
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Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Nelsen12.eps
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Nelsen. And I want to forewarn the panel that because we are probably going to run up against the next set of votes and the end of the legislative week that I will hold fairly tightly to the 5-minute rule, even for the Chair, if that is possible.
First of all, Ms. Dinerstein, to clarify the situation with regard to consular IDs, the reason why consular IDs exist is for a relationship between the foreign national and the consulate in the country in which that foreign national happens to be at that point; is that not correct?
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Ms. DINERSTEIN. That is absolutely correct. They are issued by many, many countries and they do so, as was said, so they can keep track of their foreign nationals that are living in a foreign country in case the national runs into problems, gets sick, needs to be transported home, has an accident. It is to provide consular assistance. That is the traditional reason and only reason that they have been issued.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And that is why the United States and otherforeign consulates in the United States do not have jurisdiction over the issue of those consular IDs is because of that very unique relationship, but restricted relationship and purpose for the consular ID card?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. That is correct. They have nothing to do with the United States.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Now you state in your testimony that the fact that only Mexico has access to the breeder documents used to obtain the consular ID cards, and specifically the Matricula Consular for Mexico and supplementary information that Mexico requires that is not on the document itself, quote, this renders U.S. law enforcement, U.S. agencies impotent to conduct a thorough background investigation if a Mexican national whose only identification is a Matricula card commits a serious crime while in America, unquote.
What is the basis for your conclusion?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. There is information on a birth certificate and information which the Mexican government collects on its application for a Matricula that is not available to U.S. authorities. For instance, Mexico asks for a contact name in Mexico. So it is not unusual if foreign nationals commit a serious crime for them to flee the U.S. and return to their home country.
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This is indeed what happened with the woman who was found to be the head of the smuggling ring. She returned to Honduras. If the local address was available to the U.S., they could then pursue additional lines of inquiry. They are being hampered because they do not have full access to that information.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. So it is difficult for law enforcement to get the necessary information from Mexican authorities?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. They would be dependent upon the cooperation of the Mexican consulate to give it to them.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Of a crime that is committed in the United States?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. Of a crime that is committed in the United States, that is correct.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Nelsen, if a suspect stopped in the United States were to present a Matricula for identification purposes, what would the officer have to do to verify that the Matricula is authentic?
Mr. NELSEN. If the local consulate agreed to verify the information that was contained on the consular card, he might have that. But the unfortunate problem with the Matricula Consular card and probably any other consular card is that there is no central database to which even Mexico has access by which authorities, Mexican or American, could verify the information. So he would have no way of knowing that the information is correct.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. And there is no requirement for the foreign consulate to divulge the information that the law enforcement community asks for?
Mr. NELSEN. None whatsoever. I heard the term reciprocity come up a few times in the debate today. With officially recognized IDs like passports, there are agreements that countries have to cooperate. The consular ID card is not a part of any agreement, specifically the Vienna Convention, which generally covers consular relations. People today that have been talking about reciprocity saying we have to recognize the consular card or else Mexico won't recognize our passports, they are really missing the point. What they are really saying is that if American officials were in Mexico demanding that Mexico provide services through an American consular ID card to American illegal aliens in Mexico, that would be a case of reciprocity. There is nothing like that that exists with the current situation.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Senator Andrews, in your testimony you state that you, quote, know of improper lobbying activities on the part of a consular employee leading to a formal letter of complaint from the Governor of Colorado, end quote. For what nation's consulate did this employee work?
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, this refers to an incident this past January. I have the news story in front of me. This was the press spokesman for the Mexican consulate in Denver. And our legislature and our Governor generally have excellent relations with the Honorable Leticia Calzada, the Consul General, but in this case there was a gentleman by the name of Mario Hernandez, of whom it was reported by some legislators who asked that their names not be divulged that he approached them seeking to influence legislation on such matters as driver's licenses being issued to illegal aliens and in State tuition being extended to illegal aliens residing in Colorado. And it was considered serious enough that our Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the Consul General asking her to clarify whether Mr. Hernandez had acted improperly and to render a legal opinion as to whether he ought to be registering with our Secretary of State as well as our lobbyists do as well as our United States Department of State regulations that might have been called in question. The incident then faded away. I think it was one of those matters where the Consul's office and the Governor's office both agreed to let it drop, but the warning was made very clear.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Chair's time has expired. I recognize the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, you mean what you say and you do what you say and I will do my very best. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I wish the winds of cooperation between President Vincente Fox and the President were still blowing because if that were the case we wouldn't have these hearings because as far as I know in the summer of 2001 we were about to consummate a very good partnership, clearing up an enormous amount of undocumented aliens and as well creating the kind of cooperation which would have answered Ms. Dinerstein, Mr. Nelsen, Senator Andrews and would have kept a smile on Congressman Gutierrez's face, but we would have been able to track down those who are, if at all, attempting to do us harm and as well to find Honduran smugglers in Honduras or elsewhere. And I hope, Ms. Dinerstein, you have a chance to look at the legislation I will be filing on smashing the smuggling rings, and we might be able to work together.
We are here today because that was not done. And the one thing I would like to get on the record, even if my time expires, is that we should not make this a fight between the anxieties that we have in our western States between the undocumented individuals who happen to come from Mexico and proliferate in those regions. I happen to come from Texas. For if we do that, that would be one of the most disastrous public relations and foreign policy steps we could ever make. And my sensitivity to this hearing is that I am hearing Mexico, Mexico, Mexico continuously.
And so I am assuming that we are not trying to offend the gentleman who was misstepping in Colorado. I hope that we know that everyone missteps no matter who they are and I am a little bit sensitive to the tone of some of the witnesses in this room, not intentionally but I think it is important for the record to be made very clear.
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And the reason, Mr. Chairman, let me do this. I would like to submit into the record a report from the Congressional Research Service on this question dated June 18, 2003, which speaks specificallyand I ask unanimous consent for the submission of this document.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. It specifically indicates, for example, other cases where an individual does not have a passport and humanitarian cases, for example, and that the legislation that we are hearing about would totally knock them out of any kind of utilization of a document from their foreign government, aliens applying for asylum, aliens applying for temporary protective status, no passports, Cuban nationals arriving in the United States, no passports and aliens requesting humanitarian parole.
Let me ask two quick questions. First of all, Mr. Nelsen, can you tell me where is the constitutional positionwhere is it in the Constitution, the language of immigration in the Constitution that you are arguing? I don't understand it. Mr. Gutierrez, do you findwhat is the difficulty if we do a broad brush with this concept of voiding these cards out of the Mexican consulates around the Nation because it seems as if we are saying that, and I am not sure whether others have creative ideas? What is the hardship of the broad brush if you could restate that?
Mr. Nelsen, could you give me a constitutional citation, because my knowledge is that we deal with immigration powers federally, but I don't know what the constitutional citation you use. What is your constitutional citation?
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Mr. NELSEN. On immigration, the Constitution and the Supreme Court has found this over and over, as Mr. Chairman has said, this has been well-established for a long time, the Commerce Clause gives the Congress absolute power over all aspects of immigration policy by the Supremacy Clause. No State or local law can conflict with Federal law.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I agree with you on that and the cards don't confer immigration statusthey are identification cards. And I am just wondering if you could cite for me.
But let me go to Representative Gutierrez on the hardship. Cite the constitutional notation on the ID cards. This is not immigration. This is an ID card.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I think you are absolutely correct that is what it is. The argument that is being made here by Members of this panel and other Members is that it is an immigration card. It is not an immigration card. Doesn't get you a visa. It doesn't get you a work permit. Doesn't get you a Social Security card. Doesn't get you any of those things. What it does allow for is a form of identification. The one thing it does allow you to do, because the FDIC has said so and because of our Homeland Security Department, it allows you to get a banking account.
And Congresswoman Jackson Lee, if we voided it tomorrow, all of these millions of undocumented workersand let me just state for the record, most people in this country entering illegally into this country do not enter illegally, they enter legally and overstay their visas, number one. And most of them don't come through Mexico. But it seems as though we want to harp and harp and harp on one country, on one consular office, and I think that is unfortunate. But you know something, Congresswoman, it is nothing new. If this was the 1890's we would be referring to the Italians that the New York Times called unruly and uncivilized. And if this were the 1850's and we were in Boston, we would be talking about the menace of the Irish coming over here displacing the only real Americans; that is, the English that were here before that.
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This is an old argument that we have heard before, and it is as old as the Mayflower, but I know this is a great Nation. Their contributions will be stated here in this country because that is what it is, and it is the largest growing minority, according to the Census Bureau.
What our challenge is if we want national security, you want to feel safe, I would feel safer tomorrow knowing that I had the fingerprints, the names, the photos of up to 10 million undocumented workers in this country. I would feel safer tomorrow because in the absence, Mr. Chairman, of the will and a purpose on the part and putting the resources and the purpose of our Government to deport them, we all know that this conversation is moot. We can come back here next year and there will be just as many of them, if not more, in this country because they don't come here for the Matricula. They come here as long as jobs are available to them that Americans will not perform.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much.
Mr. NELSEN. If I might respond to the question or
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Oh, yes, actually
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I accepted his answer. You have an additional answer?
Mr. NELSEN. The question you asked me, I think you said that immigrationthat these cards are about identity and not about immigration and therefore it is not a constitutional matter. Actually I think it is. The Federal law we cite says that no local government, no American can actually encourage an illegal American to remain illegally in the United States. A Matricula card which gives service to illegal aliens does encourage, we are arguing, someone to remain illegally in the United States, and therefore it is a violation of Federal law.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. And may I just conclude. The nexus that you make is totally with a lack of understanding as far as I am trying to understand you. I am asking for a constitutional nexus to this and you are talking about Americans, not the constitutional powers. Now there is a tenth amendment that certain issues are left to the States, and that is not the basis upon which I think you can make a constitutional nexus. But I will enjoy talking to you in the future, and I thank you for your response.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Flake.
Mr. FLAKE. I thank the Chair. I thank the witnesses. I had a question aboutlet me say from the outset I think Matricula Consulars are a wonderful thing. I wish there were more of them. I wish that there are more out there because I like the identification. The question, though, here really is, as I understand it, is whether or not the U.S. Government or State and local governments ought to rely on that information. That is the real question here. Can we rely on that information? Does that have implications for national security?
So that is the real question that I am coming from here. And myself and Congressman Kolbe and Congressman Reyes, as you know, and others are working on a temporary worker bill that would allow individuals who are here undocumented to come out from under the shadows and work in a legal framework and be able to come and return home under a legal framework. In that case, a document would be issued that would be issued by the U.S. Government and could be relied upon. But the question about what banks can and cannot accept, is there not already a form there? And I am not arguing here and I think what the banks want to accept, whether it is a Matricula or something else, that is fine. Is there not a document already called an I10 form that can be used?
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Ms. Dinerstein, can you explain how that works?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. ITINs were created by the IRS in 1996 to encourage compliance with American tax law for people that were living overseas that owned U.S. securities and owed interest or something, and the IRS decided that the ITIN would also be an appropriate vehicle to use for illegal immigrants, and they only regarded it as a tax monitoring number and, therefore, when they sent their application form they requested people to send in things like copies of birth certificates, etcetera. But the IRS never made any serious effort to verify the authenticity of those documents because they are a tax gathering institution. They are not a document examining institution. And I think the IRS was probably totally appalled that this became a runaway best seller. And since 1996, 6 million ITINs have been issued. And less than 2 million of them have been in any way involved with filing U.S. taxes. So what is happening to the other 4 million ITINs? And the generally accepted answer is that they are being used as a replacement for a Social Security number. They are being used for identity purposes. The Treasury Department in its report to Congress on the USA PATRIOT Act went out of its way to say that the IRS was not appropriately verifying the authenticity of these documents and it could not be relied upon as an ID document.
Mr. FLAKE. Senator Andrews, I commend the State of Colorado for addressing the issue. Can you tell me what kind of scenario do you envision or can you envision where the U.S. Government or State and local government might rely on this form of identification and it lead to a breach in national security?
Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Flake, when I said in my testimony that one concern about these nonsecure cards is that they help the bearer blend into American life, I think we have heard many vivid examples of that in the discussion of this hearing, bank accounts being the most prominent one. But without in any way denigrating individuals from any of the 20 countries issuing or proposing to issue those cards in the world of jet travel and the Internet, someone can pass through any country of origin and make their way into this country. And language and other cultural identities are increasingly blurred, and I can imagine nonsecure consular ID documentsleave Mexico out of itfrom many different countries becoming a passport toquasi-passport not to just financial participation but issuance of a driver's license. Bogus driver's licenses were used by several of the 9/11 aircraft hijackers. And it is a chain of legitimizing someone that broke the law to be here but gradually just blends into this vast sea, these 10 million individuals not here with proper legal status that Congressman Gutierrez has referred to.
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The bigger the sea of people here illegally and not able to be tracked by our Government agencies, the harder it is to find the very few bad actors, and we know there are only a very few. But the bigger that pool into which they can disappear, the more I believe our national security is at risk.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Several people have mentioned today that somehow issuing these consular identification cards makes it easier for people to remain in the country, somehow making for a safer country. And yet I think we ought to remember that 20 percent of all Federal prisoners today are illegally here in the country, 20 percent. If we want to do something about the crime rate in America, we need to do something about illegal immigration in America. When you look at the 20 percent of Federal prisoners who are illegal immigrants, if you look at their proportion of the population, that means someone who is in the country illegally is about 10 times more likely to be convicted of a serious crime than someone who is in the country legally, and we ought not forget that.
And as far as singling out Mexico, we don't need to be defensive about that because Mexico has basically singled herself out. About half of all illegal aliens come from Mexico. No other country is particularly close to that, and that just happens to be a fact. It is not singling out a country. That is just where the figures are and the facts are.
I was going to ask Senator Andrews about how these documents have a negative impact on homeland security as Congressman Flake just did. Did you have anything that you wanted to add before your time expired?
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Mr. ANDREWS. I don't think so, Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Dinerstein, thank you for your contribution to today's discussion when you pointed out that no major bank headquarters in Mexico lists the Matricula Consular card among the several official identification documents they accept to start accounts. As I said earlier, that is just incredible that the United States banks might accept them but not the Mexican banks.
And, Mr. Nelsen, thank you for reminding us how strongly the American people think about some of these issues. Oftentimes those strong feelings are ignored by the media, but you pointed to two polls. One is a recent Roper poll that found nearly 9 out of 10 Americans want local police to enforce immigration laws. You also pointed out that 75 percent in another poll believe that those who opened bank accounts in the United States should be required to show legal residence. So oftentimes you have the media elite and others on one side and you have the vast majority of the American people on the other side, and I think this may be one of these issues.
And you also pointed out, and I referred to it earlier in my opening statement, that the Treasury regulations permit U.S. banking corporationsI want to ask you about this statementto put profit above the public good and open bank accounts for illegal aliens. Do you think that some banks might put a few dollars profit ahead of homeland security?
Mr. NELSEN. Congressman Smith, I guess to give the benefit of the doubt, perhaps we don't realize the serious nature of the issue, but I think profit motive is clearly taking precedence here and they have admitted that.
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Mr. SMITH. I think they are being shortsighted and might be tempted to put the profits ahead of what is good for the country in the long run.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Smith, I don't want anybody to have the misconception here, but if you get a Matricula Consular you get a checking or a savings account. Someone said earlier that we are encouraging illegals, that this against the law, and we just heard aboutnot in my testimony, but Ms. Dinerstein's testimonythat there are approximately 4 million tax ID numbers that are issued by the IRS. And according to her testimony, there is no other reason she can figure out other than they are undocumented. So in other words, the Matricula Consular plus the IRS, the Internal Revenue Service, gets you a checking, a savings account, so we might want to look at the IRS officials.
Mr. SMITH. My time is almost up. The point is that a lot of the banks are using those cards, either alone or in combination with other documents, and you yourself used the word that these were used and you encouraged the use by undocumented immigrants to use them, and that is a fundamental difference in opinion that I think we have. I have to say I think there is a big difference betweenyou mentioned the Italians in the 1890's and the Irish in the 1850's, they all came in as legal immigrants as a part of the legal immigration process. We are talking about individuals here that you also acknowledged that are in the country illegally who are undocumented, documented. So I think there is a big difference between the two.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentleman's time has expired. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the panel for your testimony and I would pick up where Mr. Smith left off, I think, with regard to the sensitivity with regard to Mexico and I point out a few other things. The foreign policy of Mexico has been clearly to me the promotion of dual citizenship, the promotion of the ability to vote on both sides of the border, in fact the promotion of the elimination of the border between Mexico and United States entirely, and that is not something that they have been very shy about. They don't have the same policy on immigration with their contiguous neighbors as they do with the United States of America. Mexico enforces their southern borders and they encourage immigration into the United States, both legally and illegally.
The situation with them opposing our policy in Iraq doesn't sit very well with me. The violations of the NAFTA Treaty doesn't sit very well with me. Eighty-five percent of the meth that comes into my State, the State of Iowa, comes across the border from Mexico.
We heard at this very table a couple of weeks agoexcuse me, it was in the other room, but it was John Ashcroft, our Attorney General, who testified that 85 percent of those who are adjudicated deported simply disappear back into the masses and don't honor that deportation. People can be picked up 10 to 12 times by the INS or their successor administration and volunteer to go back to their home country, and in 85 percent of those adjudicated deported don't go back. We know that for sure there is not 85 percent of those who volunteer to return. Somewhere between 85 percent and 100 percent simply disappear back into the masses.
So I direct my question first to Mr. Nelsen. You made the statement that about 5 billion people on this planet live at a lower standard of living. I think what we are talking about here is we all have compassion for individuals and we would like to export our economy, our way of life and give everybody the same opportunities that we have here. But the question more is what does it take to sink the lifeboat? And if we have gotten an open borders policy with Mexico today, actually across the entire Western Hemisphere we have an open borders policy, anyone who wants tothat can make a credible allegation of U.S. citizenship and walk across these borders. We heard that testimony in this room just several weeks ago.
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And so my point is this, if we announce to the world that we are going to erase our borders and allow people to travel back and forth as they please, that is really the question that is at stake here, what are the social implications, cultural implications and economic implications of such a policy because what we are talking about here with the Matricula Consular card is a piece of moving toward a policy of opening borders without restriction?
So first Mr. Nelsen and then Senator Andrews, I would like to hear from you on what you think this world would look like if we simply followed this thing fast forward, if we erased all borders and restrictions?
Mr. NELSEN. I mentioned in my statement that I went from being an open borders advocate in my 20's to realizing how foolish that is after living in China for a couple of years and just realizing the sheer magnitude of the numbers of desperately poor people in the world. It is hard for thehard to get one's mind around a number the size of 5 billion, but it truly is an enormous and destructive number. This is one of the reasons that calls for amnesty are so irresponsible and destructive. Sometimes every now and then we hear about programs that include amnesties or we hear calls for blanket amnesties. I think Congressman Gutierrez just made one. Last year Representative Gephardt made one. Every timewhile that plays well in certain constituencies, politically here in the United States, it is a huge devastatingsends out a huge cry to billions of desperately poor people around the world to go ahead and take the chance and try to get into our country illegally in hopes of being rewarded some day with an amnesty.
I think we all know that hundreds of people die every year on the borders who are lured across in that way. We think amnesties, Matricula Consular cards for Mexico and all the other countries that may start issuing theirs, it is a step toward this globalization, borderless, nationalist, unnationed world in which economic currents drive human life. It is hard to predict how it would look, but we know and we are confident that most Americans oppose that. And since it is their country, I think we should listen to them first rather than corporations.
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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. King, in my testimony I mention the concern that our law is written about secure and verifiable documents. And the simplest way to translate that is you can find out if someone is who he claims to be. And thinking about the D.C. sniper case that is back in the headlines, we were all mystified and frightened for a couple of weeks and suddenly there was a news break and these men had been traced to Alabama and then to Washington State and then the TV cameras circled in on this stump that had been used for target practice on the other side of the United States. That is because of traceability of people's criminal records and their movements in our society.
We all have privacy concerns but we have to be real about the danger in our midst. And if the Matricula card or other nonverifiable ID cards become common from these 20 countriesit is not Mexico bashing. Poland is involvedif these cards become common then it is like the breakdown of the Soviet economy. Fifteen years ago the joke was we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. In this case I pretend to be someone that I am not by presenting you this handsome laminated card that has been described and law enforcement pretends to make a record of it, but what don't they do? They can't transmit it to the INS. The INS has said they don't want it. It is not on the NCIC criminal database.
Congressman Gutierrez mentioned fingerprints. I would love to have fingerprints shared. Mr. Cannon mentioned the sharing of information. If the information was shared so that you get to a seamlessly traceable record by which we can find people who are the wrongdoers, then we are getting somewhere. That is why we have tried to write our law in Colorado with some nuances, with some allowances for law enforcement.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 My son the police officer sees these Matricula cards in the tough neighborhoods of northeast Denver every day, but we have to find a way to get it plugged into a seamlessly traceable system of records where privacy is respected, but at the same time where security can be safeguarded.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.
Mr. CANNON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You are going in a very interesting direction, Mr. Andrews.
Mr. Nelsen, when you say at the end of your testimony you think time is coming very soon when we will have a national sort of standards for driver's licenses, you think that will happen by when?
Mr. NELSEN. By the end of this year. There is a system called Intelli-Check. I think three States already have it implemented on their driver's licenses or State IDs issued through their Departments of Transportation in which an embedded marker
Mr. CANNON. I understand where you are going. Let me just say that that is not going to happen in Utah. That is not going to happen federally because those are subjectmy Subcommittee, the Commercial and Administrative Lawand I really don't like the idea of invading America's privacy with those kinds of standards. On the other hand, when you are dealing with a Matricula Consular there are issues that really pertain there. And one of the things that my good friend Mr. Smith pointed out is that we have a lot of agreement on some of these issues and there are some huge chasms that divide us.
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One of the things that unites us, Ms. Dinerstein, you said that there are a few bad actors and then Mr. Smith pointed out that is probably 10 times the number of people who are bad actors among illegal aliens as in the population as a whole. I view that as pretty consistent. I happen to agree with that. The problem with our system today is we have 8, probably as a minimum, maybe as many as 11 million illegal aliens. Among them, in the shadows where they are hiding, there are many criminals, a significantly disproportionate amount, not a huge number, but many bad actors as you call them. So the question is what do we do and how do we solve this problem, and there are many choices. We could have a nationalan American national ID and if you don't have the ID you then get ground up in the system. I don't think that is particularly what we are going to do.
By the way, Mr. Andrews, I am going to be the guest of your Governor tonight. I am going out to your fair State. When you talk about a secure and verifiable card, I heard from your statement you would not mind a consular ID being used as that if it met some of the standards that Ms. Dinerstein talked about and that you consider essential.
Mr. ANDREWS. Not at all. I wouldn't mind it at all, Mr. Cannon, if we can weave it into the system, if we could have safeguards despite of who he claims to be.
Mr. CANNON. I want to move this in a direction. We have an issue that is going to come up next week, I think, on the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act, where this issue may be relevant. You agree that if we have standards, do you think it would be appropriate for America through our Department of State to negotiate with Mexico on what those standards should be?
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Mr. ANDREWS. Yes, I certainly do. What I am troubled by, though, suppose you need a visa stamp on your passport to show you legally entered the United States. If we start giving those visa stamps to foreign governments inside our borders we just gave away the store.
Mr. CANNON. If I might take a minute because I only have a minute left, if you and Ms. Dinerstein would each take a couple of minutes to talk aboutMs. Dinerstein, you mentioned that all we are using is a birth certificate. It is hard to use that. But are there documents out there or trails that we can use to validate a person's identity so that you have one card for one person, and have either of you thought about that and what would those standards be? Clearly a birth certificate would be one, but are there others?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. There are waysit would need to be authenticated in Mexico. They would need to corroborate the breeder documents and the only way to do that is to authenticate them in Mexico and that would make it more reliable.
Mr. CANNON. Let me add one layer here. If the Mexican government were willing to work with us. There are two things that the Mexican government can do, tell us who they are and how many people are here with these IDs or they can tell us what their process is and allow us to do an audit to assure that that process results in a verifiable single ID for a single individual. If we had a process like that in place the Department of State could put together, do you, the two of you think that would change your views on the consular ID?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. I am opposed to United States entities accepting a consular ID. I believe that it should bewe should be accepting in this
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Mr. CANNON. Reclaiming my time, when you spoke you said there is one profound defect. That is America can't understand what the basis for the issuance of the card was. If you could solve that profound defect, if you could do that, would that mean that the consular ID would have a place to resolve what we all agree is an enormous problem?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. In my mind, no. The profound defect was with regard to the reliability and verification and authenticity of that document. I still do not believe that we should be accepting in this country anything except U.S.-issued identification to foreign nationals proving that they have a legal right to be in this country.
Mr. CANNON. You didn't quite address the question, and if I might have Senator Andrews to respond to that question.
Mr. ANDREWS. I hear you describing so many modifications and restrictions to the Matricula card that it wouldn't look like the Matricula card at all, and so it is tough to answer the question except to say that when you and I get on the plane to go to Denver tonight, I don't want to see people bypassing the metal detector and the security check and just walking through a side door where they don't get checked. And right now to me the Matricula card or any consular card from Poland or Peru or anybody is a side door because somebody can walk up to the consular desk in Denver and not be asked if they broke the law to get into this country.
If there was a way to say no proof of legal residency then you don't get a consular card, the consular card would be like a passport or like a visa and I would have no problem with it. The reason that they are being not just issued for 130 years but marketed so aggressively in the last year or two is that it is a bypass around legal immigration, and that is what bothers me.
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Mr. CANNON. With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, if I might have 10 seconds, the bypass happens of people coming across the border from all places and the question is how do we deal with 8 to 11 million people, which include a huge disproportionate number of bad actors, and that is the question and that is what we are going to have to deal with in a slightly different context in the State of Colorado because it is our jurisdiction.
Mr. ANDREWS. If I may just finish then. If any country's consular card, I don't care what country, if it was blue when you proved you were here legally and orange when you couldn't prove you were here legally, then you are taking your chances when you flash that orange card the next time you go anywhere, it would be better.
Mr. CANNON. Can I ask unanimous consent for another 30 seconds just to point out that
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentleman's time has expired. We will have time for a second round.
Mr. CANNON. The rest of the Committee may have time for a second round.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman, I have a 4 o'clock meeting with Senator McCain that I finally got after 3 weeks to talk about immigration issues. Could I have 60 seconds and then I will be permitted to leave? The proponents of Matricula don't want to ask me any questions and the opponents don't.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. My second round, I will ask questions.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I would like to see the Senator. If I just could I would like to summarize very quickly.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Does the gentlelady from Tennessee
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I will yield for a couple of minutes but it isyou know, we all have places to go and we are sitting here with Blackberries going off and we have a vote coming up at 4 o'clock. So very briefly I will yield.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Tennessee and she yields to you.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I will yield to you.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I appreciate it.
Listen, the Matricula should not be a get out of jail card and I don't think it is. And I think if a police officer finds someone doing something illegal they should be arrested and prosecuted. And I don't get what the Matricula does to stop that prosecution. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If we want secure borders and we have millions of undocumented workers and we should get rid of the bad apples, then we should have people come forward and have a way of registering them; that is, getting their fingerprints, finding out their work history, finding out if they have ever been involved with the law and if they have, so we can have hard working, tax payingsince 4 million have taxpayer IDs from the IRSand law-abiding working people that are undocumented and bring them into the fold and we can get rid of the bad actors.
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I want to thank the Committee, and I thank the gentlelady. I said I needed 60 seconds. And I know that we have many, many things to do. On a serious note no one hasand I know you willI assure you when we get together, I am sure we will have that conversation and discussion. Thank you all for having me here this afternoon.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady is recognized.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for our panel for your patience and for allowing us to be up and down and to visit with you today. I thank you, too, for submitting your statements in advance so we can prepare. I am going to kind of follow along where Mr. Cannon was and Mr. Andrews, or Senator Andrews, speak with you.
I am new in Congress to this year. I came out of the Tennessee Senate. And in Tennessee we have wrestled with an issue where illegal aliens could sign a document that they never had a Social Security number and receive a driver's license which I think, as Ms. Dinerstein quoted in her testimony, that it is a passport to American society. It is something that concerned me greatly, and I worked diligently in Tennessee to close that loophole. And I have read with interest what you all did in the Colorado Senate, and I wanted to know if there was one activity or one occurrence that triggered the action and the movement of this bill?
Mr. ANDREWS. Mrs. Blackburn, it was the cumulative concern that these cards are proliferating from many countries but in Colorado it happened to be our proximity to Mexico and the activity of the Mexican consulate to issue these things by the tens of thousands. There were actually waiting lines. People couldn't get them fast enough and there were no questions asked between the legal and the illegal resident.
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I am aware of Tennessee's driver's license policy. I arranged for passage of a bill in Colorado a year ago that ended reciprocity where any other State's driver's license could be exchanged for a Colorado driver's license, no questions asked, because there were concerns about Tennessee and other States that gave these to illegal residents of the United States. And knowing the tragic role that driver's licenses played in 9/11, we didn't want Colorado anywhere near that.
Our bill closing the door on the nonsecure foreign issued ID card that passed this year didn't come from any one shocking incident. It just came from the sense of mounting concern that we are turning a blind eye to the rule of law, that it didn't matter if you snuck into this country or came here obeying the rules.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I found it very interesting, Ms. Dinerstein, that you had commented that Mexican banks do not accept the Matricula Consular. I missed the explanation as to why that is, if you do not mind repeating that for me.
Ms. DINERSTEIN. I wish I could. I don't know why Mexico doesn't. I do know that Mexico has far, far better identification than the Matricula. They werethey spent a lot of money in the early 1990's to make their voter registration card a very good ID card because there had been a lot of fraud in their elections. And those cards contain fingerprints as opposed toCongressman Gutierrez seems to be under the impression that fingerprints are contained on the Matricula. They are not.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you very much. Let me ask you this. And you and Mr. Nelsen may be able to answer this for me. If an individualwould there be reason for suspicion that a person, an individual was illegally in the country, if they only had the Matricula Consular card as a form of ID? And I am saying this if a bankif an employer were to see that, would that be a reason for suspicion?
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Ms. DINERSTEIN. Yes. All employers are supposed to request a Social Security card. If I can just speak personally, if I am in a position where I am being asked to present ID to board a plane, because I have been pulled over for a traffic infraction or for whatever reason, I am going to give the best piece of ID I have to whoever is requesting it, and therefore, if the only piece of ID that is being presented is the Matricula, I think that a reasonable person could conclude that that individual does not have any U.S.-issued ID and is here illegally.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I have some questions on technology but I know we are short on time, and I yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady. We will go for another round of questions if the panel can abide by that, and once again we will hold to the 5 minutes.
I would just like to once again bring us back to the focus of this hearing and, as was stated in the memorandum that was given to the panel members, the reason for the hearing is to discuss the issuance, acceptance and reliability of consular ID cards.
Is it the understanding, Mr. Nelsen, and your understanding, Ms. Dinerstein, that the issuance of the consular ID cards are issued by consulates of foreign nations in the United States? Is it your understanding that that is the case?
Mr. NELSEN. Yes, that is true.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Ms. DINERSTEIN. That is correct.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And the acceptance of consular ID cards are essentially to be accepted by consulates in foreign nations in the United States?
Mr. NELSEN. Do you mean by other nations?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The reason whythe people that acceptthe people that accept the consular ID cards with regard to identification are whomwho cares about the identification traditionally should care about the identification that is on a consular ID card?
Mr. NELSEN. Only the issuing country historically.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. At the consulate essentially?
Mr. NELSEN. Yes.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Not a bank, not a local housing entity, not anyone. The reason why consular ID cards traditionally exist is for acceptance of consulates, for the identification of a foreign national?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. That is exactly right. The host country has never been involved whatsoever with anything to do with a consular card until quite recently, a year-and-a-half to 2 years ago.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. And so we want to make sure that the reliability of that process is between the foreign national and the national Government in the form of a
Ms. DINERSTEIN. I don't frankly care how reliable it is or it isn't if it is being issued by a foreign government and the foreign government is the only one that has anything to do with it. Why I care about the reliability of it is at this point the United States entities are being asked to accept it, and I care a lot now about the reliability.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. If we talk about a card or a mode of identification that steps out of what we know is traditionally the consular ID card, we are no longer talking about a consular ID card, correct, in the traditional sense? If we talk about biometrics, verifiability or whatever other characteristic of a form of identification, we are no longer talking about a traditional consular ID card, am I correct in that?
Mr. NELSEN. I think that is correct. It has become something like the Mexican green card. Basically, it is a green card issued by Mexico.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Or Poland or Guatemala or whoever is doing that. I think that is an important point to make, about the reason for this hearing is, because we are talking aboutwe are talking about IDs that are being used for purposes outside of their traditional views. And that is the concern, because there are essentially two people in America today, two different types of people in America today, there are citizens and there are noncitizens. Because article 1, section 8, clause 4 of the Constitution says that, to reiterate, Congress shall have the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization, that we are dealing with fundamentally, an issue of naturalization, a subset of that, which is immigration.
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And so that is the Federal Government's role. And when people come here that are not citizens, it is the Federal Government's obligation and prerogative, solely, to deal with issues of naturalization, a subset of that which is immigration.
And so I just wanted to get us all on track, maybe back to the record as to why we are here today. And the concern that many of us have that a form of identification that was traditionally held as a means of identification between a foreign national and their foreign mission in the United States, is not that any more. And other countriesand because one country has set a precedent, that country happens to be Mexico, it could be someone else, and other countries are wishing to follow that precedent.
And that is why we are here. Senator Andrews.
Mr. ANDREWS. If I might just add, Mr. Chairman. The analogy occurs to me, I belong to the Rotary Club. The Rotary Club is in more countries of the world than even the United Nations. I have got a Rotary Club membership card. It is good when I go to any Rotary Club in this country or any other.
But, it is of no use or shouldn't be, for me to prove to any government in this country or any other country that I am not using an alias, and I am not breaking their laws. And, you have put your finger on it. The problem that has arisen with the consular cards in the last couple of years is that so many governmental and private entities in this country are now willing to say, you show me a card from a consulate, and I will assume you are not using an alias, and you are not breaking our laws.
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And those two assumptions are what I have said on other questions a few minutes ago, it concerned us in Colorado so very much, that is why I said it is like the police pretend to believe that I am who I claim to be. But all they are doing is pretending, because I am giving them something that could be phony. And they are not bothering to find out if it is phony.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you very much. The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
There is clearly a difference of opinion in this room. The good news is that we have had this hearing. And I would like to associate myself with, I think, the line of reasoning and the line of questioning that my good friend from Utah was expressing when he kept trying to probe the witnesses as to what changes would make them happy.
And because I could not seemingly hear from them any answers or solutions, again, I go back to the point whether or not this is just either bashing immigrants, generally speaking, and bashing those that come from Mexico.
I would like to put into the record, Mr. Chairman, an article that I am going to applaud from the Rocky Mountain News, Wedding Bells Are in the Cards. Now, I probably will get chastised for the proponents of the cards, because they are not understanding what I am saying. I am consistent.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 These cards are not to be and are not used for immigration status. There is a separation of powers. The 10th amendment leaves to the State what it desires to do, and leaves to the Federal Government, its responsibilities. Immigration is a responsibility of the United States Federal Government. It is a power that one can detect, read, associate under the Constitution.
But, identification issues and a State's desire to accept identification is their prerogative. It is administrative in my interpretation. It is not a Constitutional Act. So we understand that a Ms. Garcia and a Mr. Ramos attempted to get married, and they went to the Denver Clerk and Recorders Office. They came away disappointed and discouraged, possibly after this law. I guess this is June 17, 2003, how apropos, I was celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary on that day, the very young woman that I am. And I was married
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And the record so reflects that.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I was married as a baby bride, not even a child bride. So my sympathies to this couple that could not get married. But, Mr. Ramos had a Matricula Consular card and an expired Mexican passport. He was rejected.
And Ms. Garcia, who had the proper identification, was okay. Well, I would argue, rightly so, to a certain extent, because there may be questions of immigration status. I am not sure questions were asked by the clerk, but if it had to do with status, and then that State made a determination that status had not been shown, Federal status had not been shown. If that was the question, if there was not provisions that said, we just need ID.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 But the only reason I use that as an example is so that my good friends will know where I am going on this point, is that if it was that you have rules in Colorado that you can only marry people with documentation as to immigration status, then you rightly did not accept the card, and if you were basing that on Federal law.
And so it worked. And I don't know the State laws, what questions were being asked by the clerk. The card was onlyif you only have requirements of ID, then have you a problem with this. But I applaud it if it had to do with status, because that is my argument, this is an identification card.
And so I don't know where this hearing will take us, but I would like to join in the words of the Congressman from Utah and ask, Mr. Chairman, that we try to provide guidelines, and we work to fix it. But if you broadly eliminate the utilization of this card, you are broadly, first of all I think, interfering with Federal law, when we should engage the State Department on the devastating damage, because on a humanitarian basis all of the asylum seekers will be without passports, and they will be walking around with nothing, to our disadvantage.
In the Homeland Security hearing I just came from, these were my pronounced words: We are not secure. Period. But, this process does not aid in security. Because what you are doing is, maybe what we should do, Ms. Dinerstein, is require fingerprints. I have not probed that with the consulars, because they interact with the State Department. But, I think they have done what they have tried to do, to make a card that cannot be counterfeited or smudged, and that is an improvement for us.
It is also an improvement that if they go and open a bank account, and there is identification, then if they are money launderers, that is an improvement for us. I will raise this question, last question, Mr. Chairman, and say this: Mr. Berman, who had another meeting on my side of the aisle and is very knowledgeable on these issues, begged us not to allow ideology to overtake common sense.
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So we need to be able to reform or fix, but not to eliminate or undermine. Senator Andrews, you were attempting to respond, becauseand I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, I would like unanimous consent to put this article in the record from the Rocky Mountain News dated June 17, 2003.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Senator Andrews.
Mr. ANDREWS. Congresswoman, I compliment you on your research, and I am flattered that you would enter an article from my hometown paper into the record, that is this week. And 30 days ago, Mr. Ramos and Ms. Garcia could have shown up to the Denver County Clerk and obtained that marriage license on the strength of the Matricula.
What has changed in the last 30 days is that Colorado House Bill 1224 was signed into law in the meantime, and the Denver County Clerk is attempting to comply, and in this case, I believe, properly complied with this new State law.
Had the gentleman presented a valid Mexican passport, then I assume that the marriage license would have been issued. And the intent of the law is, to this small extent, operating because, I believe the Colorado General Assembly was listening to our constituents, and we were seeking to require valid ID that would reassure State agencies someone wasn't breaking the law, being in this country illegally, before they could obtain various State and local government services, even something like a marriage license.
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So the new bill took effect here, and the new bill seems to be working as we hoped it would work.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I conclude by simply saying, that that is where we have the conflict. And I will have to read that bill. Because if they were rejecting it because he did not have proper ID, I consider that a legitimate role of the State. If they are trying to make an assessment of his immigration status, the card did not confer status. And I would raise the question of whether or not we are taking this card and penalizing it as an ID card, because we are saying that it is a card to equal status, and that is not what it is.
We should let it stand on what it is, Mr. Chairman, an ID card. And as it relates to immigration status, that is our responsibility, and we then need to fix whatever has to be fixed to make those cards viable.
I yield back, and I thank the Senator.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank the gentlelady. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Iowa for 5 minutes, and that will put us 10 minutes to the end of the vote. Mr. King.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was prepared in our second round to address my question to Representative Gutierrez. Reading through his testimony, he states that 13 States acknowledge the Matricula card as a means to acquire a driver's license. I would appreciate it if my office could receive that list of those States. I would be very interested in that.
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I would point out that that number is very close to the same number of States that require citizenship before one can vote. And I don't have that list at my disposal, but even though there is a Federal requirement for citizenship in a local election, the States under the 10th amendment have that jurisdiction.
And only about 13 or 14 States have taken the trouble to legislate the obvious, that casting a ballot is an exercise in citizenship. It should require citizenship to cast a ballot at any election in this country, in my opinion. The States have not moved forward on that.
But I point that out as a kind of an interesting coincidence. But, I will say that when the Matricula card is used as a driver's license, and that driver's license is used as identification, and a person goes in any one of those other States, other than those 13 or 14 that require citizenship, and casts a ballot, then, in fact, they have opened the door to citizenship of the United States through the Matricula cardand it is controlled by the Mexican Consulate.
So that is what we are talking about here. And I posed the question earlier to the gentleman, and I will pose it now to the lady. And I am still interested in the broader subject matter herethe steps that we take that cheapen citizenship and open our borders, move us in a direction of open borders.
And if we are going to recognize where we are going as a Nation, we have to find a way and have this open debate across this country, and fast forward ourselves into what are the results of an open borders policy, because we know what incrementalism is. It is a designed and calculated method to open borders, bring down barriers. And some people believe in a one-world government. I happen to believe that almost all of the blessings that humanity has contributed to, with the help of God, came from sovereignty of the Nation, and being able to have solid policies that are consistent, so that our currency is solid and our culture is consistent as well.
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So, Ms. Dinerstein, can you then speculate what this world looks like if we fast forward down this path of open borders and one world. What does the United States look like in 50 years or a hundred years in your mind's eye?
Ms. DINERSTEIN. I think what it would be like is something very dissimilar to what is it today. And part of that is that the United States is the most technologically advanced country. The most entrepreneurial country. The country, you know, to our detriment now with respect to the Middle East, is viewed as so dominant in world affairs that we have now, it is coming back and biting us.
The people that are sort of compelled to come here are by their nature the poorest people. The people who have no opportunity in their own countries at all. Their own countries don't educate them. They don't provide them jobs. And, therefore, were there to be open borders, there would be a wave of people so grateful for the opportunity to come to this country that it would overpower us really.
They are hard working, but their skill level is such that they can't earn a decent living, and, therefore, they would become a public charge. You know, I justit is a very interesting question. I sort of haven't gone there in my thinking because it is a little upsetting.
Mr. KING. I would state that I am surprised that of the three testifiers here on this panel that I have asked that question to, that you don't seem to have explored that out to the end, a generation or two down the road. I suspect that most of this Nation has not done that either.
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So we are dealing with minutia policy, short-term vision here, instead of applying the long-term effect of what it is that we might be doing. And I think, though, that Mr. Nelsen did make some comments with that regard on our shortsightedness. I think that we might need to be much more farsighted in our policy that we establish, and know where it fits in the long scheme.
I thank you all very much for your testimony. And thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentleman yields back his time. I want to thank the witnesses for appearing today and for your testimony, as well as your responses to our questions.
We will leave the record open for 7 days for any additional information that the Members of the Subcommittee or witnesses may want to submit.
And I will also want to mention that we will be having a second hearing on consular identification cards next week on Thursday, June 26th, at 11 a.m. In this room. We will be holding a hearing on the Federal Government's response to the issuance and acceptance in the U.S. of consular identification cards.
At that hearing the Subcommittee will review the steps that Federal agencies have taken to review, regulate and oversee the issuance of consular ID cards in the U.S., as well as foreign government lobbying efforts to seek acceptance of the cards by States, localities and businesses in the United States.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I associate myself with your remarks on the appreciation to the witnesses. I would like to ask unanimous consent to submit into the record acceptance of Mexican Consular IDs is not only legal, it improves public safety and enhances the economy prepared by MALDEF.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The business before the Subcommittee being complete, we are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:20 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
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