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Friday, July 09, 2004

Mexican ID card reviewed - 07/09/04 Mexican ID card reviewed

Mexican ID card reviewed - 07/09/04
Friday, July 9, 2004
Wayne Smith

Salvador Salcedo, assistant general manager of Plaza Mexico in Eastpointe, has had the Mexican matricula consular card since he came to the United States in 1991. "It's like a passport. It has all of your information on it."
By Edward L. Cardenas, and Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News
Wayne Smith
The card allows Mexican citizens to open bank accounts, use a public library and conduct government business.
Getting a matricula consular

The matricula consular proves the residency of Mexicans living abroad. It can be obtained locally at the Mexican Consulate, 645 Griswold, Suite 830, Detroit. Phone (313) 964-4515.

To get the card, the following is needed:

* Proof of Mexican nationality, including birth certificate and certificate of nationality.

* Official identification with photo.

* Proof of local address, such as utility bills.

* Payment of a $26 fee.

Source: Mexican Consulate

Mexicans living in Macomb County would be able to use a popular Mexican ID card to conduct government business under a plan to be considered by the county board.

The move would make Macomb only the second county in southeast Michigan to accept the card, in addition to Wayne, according to the Mexican Consulate in Detroit.

A committee of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners on Monday will discuss whether to recognize the Mexican Consular Identification Card as an accepted form of identification for thousands of Mexicans living in the county.

“The previous identification cards by the Mexican government had significant flaws in them,” said Douglas Fouty, program director in the Macomb County Human Resources Department. “This has greater quality and background security features that make the card more reliable.”

The card, known as a matricula consular card, allows Mexican citizens to open bank accounts, use a public library and conduct government business.

The matricula consular, which is valid for five years, is issued to Mexican nationals who have lived in the country for at least six months and comply with identification requirements. The card can be obtained in 45 cities throughout the United States, including Detroit.

Of the 12,400 Hispanics living in Macomb County — about 1.5 percent of the county’s population — about 7,700 identified themselves as Mexicans, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

The matricula consular card is available to all Mexicans living abroad, whether they are in the country legally or not, said Gerardo Macias, community affairs coordinator for the Mexican Consulate in Detroit.

Macias’ staff has been visiting cities across the state to urge Mexicans to sign up for the card.

The Mexican government has offered the card for years, but it was revamped after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to include security features such as magnetic strips and computerized signatures.

“It looks like a (Michigan) state identification, and it is very secure,” Macias said.

Macomb County’s personnel committee will consider the resolution at a meeting Monday in the Administration Building in Mount Clemens.

If approved by the committee — and the full Board of Commissioners later this month — Macomb would accept the card for county business such as obtaining birth and marriage certificates, tax records, court files and other documents.

Sheriff Mark Hackel, after meeting with members of the Mexican Consulate this spring, already has told his staff to accept the card as identification by Mexican citizens.

Other local law enforcement agencies that accept the card include Allen Park, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Census figures probably underestimate the number of Mexicans living and working in Macomb County, according to those who work with the local Mexican community.

Lori Johnson, a nurse at New Haven Community Services who is active in Hispanic issues, said many Mexicans who visit her clinic have received the card. She encourages those who haven’t to apply for one, she said.

“We are telling these people to get the card at whatever cost,” Johnson said.

Salvador Salcedo, assistant general manager of Plaza Mexico in Eastpointe, said he’s had a Mexican matricula consular card since he came to the United States from Mexico City in 1991.

The 42-year-old from Detroit said he doesn’t need to use the card as much now that he’s a naturalized citizen, but it comes in handy when he visits Mexico.

“It’s like a passport,” he said. “It has all of your information on it.”

If Mexican citizens don’t have the matricula or another valid form of identification, they can be fined as much as $50 by Mexican authorities when they return home, he said.

Salcedo said he thought the county’s proposal to accept the identification card is a good idea. The card also makes life easier for Mexican immigrants here in Metro Detroit, he said.

“A lot of Mexican immigrants don’t have a driver’s license, so they can’t cash a check at a bank,” he said. “But they can if they have a matricula consular.”

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