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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
June 14, 2010

In what they characterized as "a baffling development," a public-interest law group revealed that a major U.S. county is allowing the Mexican government to operate "a satellite consular office" to offer the area’s illegal immigrants identification cards that will facilitate life in the United States since they are accepted by many jurisdictions, with the Obama Administration turning a blind eye to a flagrant violation of law.

According to Judicial Watch, Mexican officials requested the Homeland Security agency charged with immigration enforcement not to enforce the law in the area while the cards -- known as Matricula Consular --are being issued last week.

One agent from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claimed to be amazed that "[T]he Mexican government has the gall to tell us what to do,” according to Judicial Watch officials.

Even more amazing is that the Obama Administration, the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano -- who commands ICE -- are obliging and that officials in the nation’s most populous county -- Los Angeles -- are even allowing it to happen. The Mexican consular office is operating on Santa Catalina Island, a small resort community located about 22 miles off the Southern California coast with a population of about 3,000. The majority of the residents on the L.A. County island are illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Many American citizens are confused over the proliferation of Mexican Matricula Consular ID cards, that are thought to be bonafide identification documents. They shouldn't feel so bad about their confusion -- it seems the US government and state and local governments share that confusion.

Several state and local government agencies and financial institutions accept consular identification or CID cards, which are issued by foreign governments to their citizens living abroad. Mexico issued more than 2.2 million Matricula CID cards last year and Guatemala issued approximately 89,000. Critics of CID cards say their acceptance facilitates the unlawful stay within the United States of undocumented aliens and may provide opportunities for terrorists to remain undetected in this country.

Consular identification cards are issued by some governments to help identify their citizens living in a foreign country. The cards do not certify legal residence within a country; thus, cardholders may be either legal or undocumented aliens. CID cards benefit the bearers by enabling them, in some instances, to use this form of identification to obtain driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, show proof of identity to police, and gain access to other services.

Both Mexico and Guatemala incorporate a variety of security features in their CID cards, such as holographic imagery. However, officials of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement warn that incorporating technical security features into identification documents such as CID cards does not guarantee their authenticity.

Federal agencies hold different and, in some cases, conflicting views on the usage and acceptance of CID cards, and no executive branch guidance is yet available. A Homeland Security Council task force of executive branch agencies is reviewing identification document security but had not as yet issued its findings.

The Department of the Treasury adopted a regulation that, in effect, allows CID card acceptance, while an FBI official has stated that the Mexican CID card, in particular, is not a reliable form of identification and that its acceptance could support false identities. The Department of Homeland Security expressed security concerns as well. The State Department has publicly expressed concerns about the impact restricting CID card use might have on U.S. citizens abroad, for example, if the United States had to issue its own CID cards in an emergency.

Ironically, Los Angeles suffers from a disproportionate amount of crime perpetrated by illegals, with up to 95 percent of the outstanding homicide arrest warrants are for illegal aliens, with 63 percent of overall criminal arrest warrants for illegal aliens.

The Mexican consul's office first offered the photo identification cards to illegal immigrant workers on the island two years ago, with the news media remaining silent about this obvious violation of U.S. law and sovereignty.

Incredibly, the easily forged Mexican Matricula cards are widely accepted as ID in the U.S. and can be used to apply for government services, establish credit and open bank accounts. They have also been accepted to fraudulently obtain home loans from some of the nation’s top lenders, according to one report.

A few weeks ago, the Mexican consular office in Los Angeles issued a flier advertising this week’s effort to issue Matricula cards to as many illegal immigrants as possible. The event was originally scheduled for the Catalina Island Country Club, but was later moved to a nearby church because a Republican congressman who represents the area warned that State Department permission is required to host a foreign government. Churches are supposedly exempt under the Vienna Convention.


Accommodating illegal aliens is nothing new in the Golden State, which has numerous sanctuary cities and police departments with don’t-ask-don’t-tell immigration policies. Last year two California Democrats introduced legislation to make the Mexican identification cards accepted as an official form of ID, carrying the same weight as a U.S. government-issued identification for official transactions.

The proposal is opposed by the National Notary Association because it would permit its 50 million members to rely solely on the Mexican cards to verify a person’s identity even though the FBI has deemed them unreliable.

U.S. visas trafficked in Mexico

United States immigration and State Department officials fear that their newly developed, high-tech visas are being sold on the Mexican black market. The US government hoped the newly designed visas would help in curtailing rampant illegal immigration at the Mexican border, but investigators believe many of them are being bought or rented by Mexicans seeking illegal entry into the US.

Well over 11,000 of these Laser Visas, issued to Mexicans for legitimate travel into the United States were reported stolen or “lost” in just two border cities. Government officials claim this is a 15 percent jump from previous figures.

The ATM card-sized documents, which include the legal holder’s photograph and scanned fingerprints, were actually developed for use in 1998 hopefully to increase security and standardize documents used by Mexicans to cross the border since so many different types of documentation made the screening process cumbersome and confusing.

“While many may have been legitimately ‘lost,’ it seems probable that quite a few are either ’stolen’ or ‘reported stolen’ in order to sell them,” a U.S. consular official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

“There appears to be a healthy market for both buying and renting laser visas on the border,” she added.

Mexicans call these visa cards “Micas,” which allow bearers to cross into the US without other supporting documents. The card also allows them to travel up to 25 miles inside California or Texas and they may remain in the US up to 30 days.

According to figures provided by Reuters, 8,745 of the border crossing cards went astray last year in Ciudad Juarez, south of El Paso, Texas, and 3,095 in Tijuana, opposite San Diego, California. No figures were available for other cities along the 2,000-mile border.

The problem got so bad that the US Embassy in Mexico City revamped its visa policy late last year, but did not inform anyone of the mounting problem. The embassy now replaces “lost” or stolen cards with stickers placed inside passports hope this will curb the illegal market of the laser cards.

The paradox is that in an effort to beef up security at the Mexican border using state-of-the-art technology, the US may have made it even easier to compromise that very security.

Also, the US is getting zero help from the government in Mexico City during the course of investigations. While not speaking “on the record,” off the record some US law enforcement people believe elements within the Mexican federal and local governments are assisting in the diversion of legitimate visas.

While US authorities say they possess no concrete evidence that organized Mexican human trafficking rings overseeing the illicit trade are using these cards, many security experts believe there are several organizations trafficking in this document.

But Tijuana police claim most of the stray visas are sold by cash-strapped holders to human traffickers in the gritty industrial city of 2 million people, on a widely used route for Mexican illegal immigrants headed for the Californian border.

Recently, seven illegal aliens from Mexico were arrested for allegedly operating a fraudulent document ring in Chicago’s “Little Village” area. The organized crime enterprise generated approximately $2.5 million a year.

Found inside the residence was equipment used for making fake government documents, including: five high-speed computers, printers, ID card printers, scanners, laminating pouches, foil strips with security features, dozens of counterfeit identification cards, and other document-making paraphernalia. The estimated value of the seized items is approximately $10,000; the street value of the software is believed to be about $100,000.

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Law enforcement commanders throughout the US believe that there are similar operations being conducted by Mexican organized crime cells. The Castorena crime family, a Mexican organized crime family that has controlled the majority of the fraudulent document manufacturing and sales trade in the US over the past 10 years, is believed to be trafficking in these new high-tech visas. Some even believe they are attempting to duplicate these cards.

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Incredibly, the easily forged Mexican Matricula cards are widely accepted as ID in the U.S. and can be used to apply for government services, establish credit and open bank accounts. They have also been accepted to fraudulently obtain home loans from some of the nation’s top lenders, according to one report.