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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Town is asked to OK Mexican ID

Town is asked to OK Mexican ID
Gilbert's Human Relations Commission wants the Town Council to start recognizing the controversial matricula consular card for Mexican nationals as legal identification.

The commission will recommend the council accept the cards' use within the town limits when the two government bodies meet Thursday, commission chairwoman Tami Smull said.

The Mexican government issues matricula cards to its citizens living in the United States.

The cards are accepted as valid identification for Mexican nationals by many Valley cities, police departments and banks, but do not entitle bearers to public benefits or allow them to obtain a driver's license.

Smull disputes claims by critics that the cards would give undocumented immigrants living in the United States freedoms they shouldn't be entitled to.

"This isn't about immigration." Smull said. "It's about identifying people."

Gilbert Mayor Steven Berman, an outspoken opponent of the concept, believes the matricula card "validates illegal immigration."

The cards also represent a threat to national security because they are susceptible to counterfeiting and their information can be easily faked, he said.

"We've found Iranians carrying them and 18-year-olds with cards saying they were 21. How can you believe that they're accurate?" Berman said. "It shouldn't be up to the town of Gilbert or other cities to find a way for illegal aliens to circumvent federal law."

Berman said the cards aren't even necessary in Gilbert because customers don't need photo ID for town services, such as water and trash pickup.

In March, the commission voted, 7-2, to recommend the council adopt the card as a valid form of ID.

The vote came despite warnings from several East Valley legislators and Protect Arizona Now, an anti-immigration group, who said the cards would enable undocumented immigrants to commit crimes and threaten U.S. security.

Other Arizona cities and towns accepting the cards include Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler and Mesa.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gilbert Municipal Center.

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