http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epaper/editions/monday/opinion_d3583730b126c0b20071.html

OUR OPINIONS:

Kudos to DeKalb on Mexican IDs

Staff Monday, September 16, 2002

On Tuesday, the DeKalb County Commission voted 6-1 to go where no Georgia county has gone before. In a progressive and forward-looking vote, the commission decided to accept the matricula consular, Mexico's bilingual consular ID card, as valid identification for Mexican citizens living or working in DeKalb.

Commissioner Elaine Boyer, voting against the measure, claimed the decision means DeKalb would "turn homeland security over to a foreign government."

Poppycock.

Mexico is merely providing its citizens with a fraud-proof photo ID. It has seven security features and is printed in Spanish and English. And it's a rigorously researched affirmation of Mexican citizenship, an identification vouched for by our neighbor and ally.

The matricula consular resolves a problem that police and other institutions, including hospitals and banks, have in dealing with undocumented immigrants. Though they live and work here, they cannot obtain a driver's license or a Social Security card. So they have no valid ID with which to cash a check or open a bank account.

The hysteria of critics such as Commissioner Boyer notwithstanding, the matricula consular is not a step toward citizenship or legalization. It doesn't threaten national security.

Police who apprehend a criminal suspect will respond as they always have. Immigration officials will act (or not act) as they always have. Only now, with a consular ID in hand, they'll at least know for sure who they're dealing with.

Remedios Gomez-Arnau, Mexico's consul-general in Atlanta, says the consulate has issued 30,000 consular IDs already this year, an increase of 20 percent to 30 percent over the past three years. It's accepted as valid ID by all 159 county offices of vital records, the city of Forest Park, the Fulton County Tax Commissioner and now DeKalb County.

As for the rest of Georgia: Every local government entity should join DeKalb and use Mexico's validation of citizenship.