Their money or your safety
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[cross-posted at the-lonewacko-blog.redstate.org/story/2004/9/19/225351/640 and the Command Post]
U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) has introduced controversial legislation to sharply curtail the rights and daily activities of immigrants [sic; only illegal immigrants would be affected --LW]. The legislation would block undocumented workers in the U.S. from opening bank accounts and deny them any access to Social Security payments.
Culberson has cloaked this reactionary legislation, an amendment to a House appropriations bill, as a measure to enhance national security. Attempting to exploit the fears generated by the Bush administration rhetoric about terrorists, Culberson claims that Middle Eastern terrorists have disguised themselves by using Hispanic names and that his bill will help keep such terrorists out [see Congressman: Terrorists are infiltrating the U.S. via Mexico --LW].
Among other things, the amendment would make it much more difficult for immigrants [sic; illegal immigrants --LW] to use foreign IDs, such as the matricula consular issued by the Mexican government, to open bank accounts...
Those "Matricula Consular" cards ("MC") are only of use to illegal aliens. And, Culberson does have a point:
Last June, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Steve McCraw, assistant director of the FBI's Office of Intelligence, said that the bureau and the Justice Department have concluded that the card is not a reliable means of identification. McCraw warned that the "ability of foreign nationals to use the matricula consular to create a well-documented, but fictitious, identity in the United States provides an opportunity for terrorists to move freely in the United States without triggering name-based watch lists that are disseminated to local police officers. It also allows them to board planes without revealing their true identity."
Given that, you might expect Culberson's legislation to have passed, but you'd be wrong. From House Backs Bush on Mexican ID Cards:
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to support a Bush administration plan to allow the use of Mexican identification cards to open U.S. bank accounts.
The House voted 222 to 177 remove language in an $89.9 billion bill funding the Transportation and Treasury Departments aimed at preventing the use of the cards. The House has yet to vote on the overall bill...
According to data from the Mexican foreign ministry, over 2.2 million of the cards have been issued since March 2002 and 178 financial institutions and 1,180 police departments in the United States accept them as proof of identity.
The Inter-American Development Bank and Treasury Department have backed the matricula as a way for Mexicans to open bank accounts and send billions of dollars in remittances back to their families in Mexico.
Before the vote, Treasury Secretary Snow said this:
"The Administration believes as a general matter that Americans are better protected if consumers of all nationalities are invited into the financial mainstream"
After the vote, Culberson had this to say:
"The Treasury rule is an embarrassment and a danger to national security, and so I will continue to work relentlessly to do away with this rule," Mr. Culberson said Wednesday.
In that last link, Nancy Pelosi weighs in with a quote in support of MC cards. In case you weren't confused already.
See also 222 House Members Put Interests of Banking Lobby Ahead of Homeland Security and the extensive backgrounder "IDs for Illegals: The 'Matricula Consular' Advances Mexico's Immigration Agenda".
But, there's more. And, you might consider it even worse...
If you were an illegal alien living in, say, Sherwood Arkansas, would you need to travel to the Dallas TX Mexican consulate to pick up your MC card? Not if the consul comes to you. Recent news reports detail how Mexican consuls travel to various outposts in the U.S. exchanging an MC card for the $26 fee. And, most of the reporters who cover the consul coming to their town do so in either a gullible or a disingenuous manner.
In almost all of these reports the sales job given by the consuls is presented without comment. In most cases, nary a dissenting word is heard. And, in some cases local churches or banks are involved.
Some reports are provided below, along with contact information for the editors involved.
· Sherwood [AR] Voice
Arkansas needs Mexican consulate; new documentation
by Warren Watkins (editor)
(church is involved; gullible local leaders provide quotes; no dissenting voices)
includes this consul quote: "[I came to Arkansas to] continue the negotiations with the state and city authorities for making sure that we are going to inaugurate a Mexican consulate in the coming year in Little Rock... Governor Huckabee was a large part of this... He went to Mexico City and met with President Fox and proposed this... [when you get your MC we] don�t care if you are documented or undocumented... I like Arkansas... It is so green. It�s so clean, nice, with very warm, open people, and many friends of Mexico."
· Hilton Head SC's Island Packet
Mexican Consulate issues IDs
by Noah Haglund
Fitz McAden, executive editor firstname.lastname@example.org
(mentions that social security number is required for a driver's license in SC and NC, but no terrorism mention; includes FAIR quote)
includes this consul quote: "[The consul] also said he didn't like seeing illegal immigration because it hurt his national pride to see so many compatriots living far from home."
· That report generated the letter to the editor "ID cards a cash cow": "The consulate, as well as the matricula and the cash remittance sent by illegal alien laborers, are cash cows to the Mexican government... Our local governments should avoid being a party to this travesty and refrain from aiding and abetting illegal aliens who seek to arrive and remain illegally in the United States. That too is a federal crime."
· Naples [FL] Daily News
Mexican nationals flock to mobile consulate for passports, ID cards
by Tracy Miguel
editor: Phil Lewis email@example.com
(event was co-sponsored by Bank of America; MC's "acknowledge [a person's] presence in the United States"; a church is involved; alludes to stricter DL procedures after 9/11; MCs "can be issued whether or not the holder is legally in the United States... The Mexican Consulate will provide the matricula and passport if the person who is requesting the document can prove that he or she is a Mexican national"; article ends with the phone number of the Mexican consulate for those who want more information)
· WKYT (via Paducah News working for AP?)
Mexican government helps immigrants acquire passports, identification cards
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim.Ogle@wkyt.com, email@example.com
(no mention of terrorism risks, no quotes from consul; church involved; minister says: "These are illegal and legal people... This has nothing to do with immigration.")
· Racine, WI Journal Times
"Mexican Consulate helps locals with their papers"
by Julio Urdaneta
editor Randolph Brandt: firstname.lastname@example.org
(no downsides mentioned; includes this: Alberto Martin, North Shore Bank branch manager in Milwaukee [said] "This is our third venture with the Mexican Consulate. We have participated in activities like this before in Milwaukee and Green Bay and now in Racine... "I believe we are creating a union, a joint work with the Mexican consulate to help Mexicans to obtain matriculas consulares.")
Contact the North Shore Bank's president, Jim McKenna, at 1-800-236-4672 or through this complicated form.
If that's not enough, see Pressure on to support immigration measure. Althoug not directly related to MC cards, that article concerns how banks are forming together to oppose the Protect Arizona Now initiative.
[Mexico's foreign minister Jorge] Castaneda said Mexican officials will begin rallying unions, churches, universities and Mexican communities... "What's important is that American society sees a possible migratory agreement in a positive light," Castaneda said. "We are already giving instructions to our consulates [in the U.S.] that they begin propagating militant activities -- if you will -- in their communities."