County may accept official Mexican sham ID cards,1413,82%257E1726%257E935932,00.html

Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 3:10:41 AM MST

County may accept official Mexican IDs

Document already recognized by Oakland and San Francisco

By Donna Horowitz STAFF WRITER

Following the lead of San Francisco and Oakland, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will consider accepting identification cards for Mexican nationals.

The cards, issued by the Mexican Consulate, are intended to make life easier for undocumented residents by giving them official identification, which can be recognized by county departments and agencies.

San Francisco was the first city in the nation to accept the Matricula Consular cards. Oakland followed in February.

The cards include a photo and birthdate of the person being identified. They are issued to Mexican citizens who provide a birth certificate and can prove they have been in the United States for at least six months.

Earlier this week the Board of Supervisors' Public Protection Committee recommended approval of an ordinance allowing acceptance of the card by county employees. It will now go to the full board for action.

Supervisor Gail Steele, who sits on the Public Protection Committee, said a representative of the Mexican Consulatecame to see her and Sheriff Charles Plummer to request a policy calling for the county to accept such cards as official identification.

"We have 127,000 people who live in the unincorporated area," Steele said. "I don't know what percent are Mexican who need this. It's a little tool that makes life easier for people from Mexico."

She noted that the cards make it easier for Mexican immigrants to open bank accounts. Earlier this year, U.S. banks began accepting the cards, enabling immigrants to use their services without a driver's license.

Librado Perez, an aide to Steele, said the cards also will help law enforcement by speeding up identification of people in custody.

But he said the card can be used only for identification and does not grant citizenship or any other rights to immigrants.

"I support it because we've got nothing now," Plummer said. "We've been working with the Mexican Consulate for years."

He said he raised the issue at a county police chiefs association meeting, and those attending endorsed the identification card idea.

Plummer said he is a strong supporter of Mexican immigrants because of their work ethic, saying, "If I was king of the United States, I'd make them all citizens. They're motivated. Ninety-nine percent of them are law-abiding. They have great family values."