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Saturday, May 22, 2004

L.A. Daily News - New Bill would allow deportation of Matricula Consular ID Users

L.A. Daily News - News
Bill would allow deportation of people with foreign IDs


By Lisa Friedman
Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON -- Presenting a foreign-issued identification card to federal authorities would be reason enough for deportation under legislation Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks, introduced Friday.

The bill represents Gallegly's latest effort to restrict the Mexican "matricula consular" cards that are issued by the thousands each month in Los Angeles alone, and which local governments increasingly accept as a valid form of ID.

By amending the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Gallegly also would bar any illegal immigrant who was deported for using a foreign identification card from re-entering the U.S. for 10 years.

"It would mean a federal agency could not accept this as a form of identification," Gallegly said. "Clearly, the only person that needs this card is someone who is here illegally in the United States."

While groups that work against illegal immigration praised Gallegly's bill, the National Immigration Law Center called it "an outrageous proposal."

"It's very draconian and punitive and arbitrary," said Linton Joaquin, the center's interim executive director based in Los Angeles. "I question whether it's legal."

Joaquin also challenged the assumption that presenting a matricula card necessarily means one is in the U.S. illegally.

According to the legislation, presenting a consular identification card "shall be prima facie evidence that the alien is deportable." The immigrant would have to prove that he or she is in the country legally and should not be deported.

The bill does not impose any requirements upon federal officials or others who may be presented with a matricula card to turn someone over for deportation. But, Gallegly said, "it sends up a red flag that would cause authorities to check your immigration status."

Mike Hethman, staff counsel for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington, D.C.-based group that works to block illegal immigration, called the bill "very helpful."

"It will cut off the burgeoning practice of local and state governments defying the federal government over immigration policy."

Congress has in the past approved modest measures overseeing the use of matricula cards, including one by Gallegly demanding Mexico share its database of card holders with the U.S.

Previous efforts to restrict the card, however, have gone nowhere. Last year, Gallegly introduced a bill that would have prohibited the federal government from recognizing all foreign-issued identification cards except passports.

Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 lisa.friedman@langnews.com

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