Posted on September 17, 2004

Mexican IDs Get A Break

Michelle Mittelstadt, Dallas Morning News, Sep. 16

WASHINGTON — The House has killed a measure that would have barred U.S. banks from accepting a Mexican identification card used chiefly by illegal immigrants.

Rep. John Culberson, the Houston Republican who touted the measure as necessary to improve national security, said he will continue to press his case against the matricula consular.

The House, on a 222-177 vote late Tuesday, stripped the Texas Republican’s language from a bill funding the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department allows financial institutions to accept the matricula, notwithstanding concerns by the FBI and Homeland Security Department that the document is insecure and open to fraud.

“The Treasury rule is an embarrassment and a danger to national security, and so I will continue to work relentlessly to do away with this rule,” Mr. Culberson said Wednesday.

The White House, the banking industry and immigrant advocacy groups support continued use of the card, which has allowed countless illegal immigrants to open bank accounts.

The card “allows many Mexican immigrants to open bank accounts and participate in other activities for which they pay taxes and contribute to the American economy,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

She and other matricula supporters also said that the card’s use enhances national security because it permits banks to trace the flow of money.

222 House Members Put Interests of Banking Lobby Ahead of Homeland Security

Federation for American Immigration Reform, Sep. 16

(Washington, D.C. — September 15, 2004). Responding to the 222-177 vote by the House of Representatives last night, adopting an amendment introduced by Representatives Michael Oxley (R-OH) and Barney Frank (D-MA), allowing banks and other financial institutions to accept the Mexican matricula consular document in lieu of valid U.S.-issued documents, FAIR issued the following statement:

“Once again, Congress has placed the priorities of a powerful special interest ahead of homeland security interests. In this case, the full House overrode the decision of the Appropriations Committee barring the acceptance of these documents and sided with the powerful banking lobby, which mounted an all-out campaign to have the ban against acceptance of the matricula card stripped from the final Treasury Appropriations measure.

“The House capitulated to the demands of the banking industry in spite of the fact that top law enforcement and homeland security officials have publicly stated that these documents are not secure and can be easily used by terrorists and criminal organizations to engage in money laundering. The desire of the banking industry to do business with people who are in the U.S. illegally has won out over the imperative to close the loopholes that have already been exploited by terrorists and criminal enterprises.

“Ever since the 9/11 Commission issued its report in July, members of Congress have been vying for camera time to show the folks back home that they are serious about implementing the recommendations made by the Commission. However, the first time they encountered a recommendation that was unpopular with a powerful lobby group, they decided that homeland security would, once again, have to take a back seat to the desire of a powerful business interest to cash-in on mass illegal immigration.

“The 9/11 Commission pointedly noted in its report that our reliance on unsecure documents and the ease with which the terrorists who attacked us three years ago had access to our banks directly contributed to the tragedy that cost some 3,000 people their lives. Three years to the week after those attacks, the House overrode an existing provision of an Appropriations bill and allowed banks to accept documents issued by a foreign government that are known to be susceptible to fraud.

“FAIR applauds Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) for his valiant effort to close a loophole in the banking law that can — and almost certainly will be — exploited by terrorist organizations and organized crime. We commend the members of Congress who argued passionately to preserve this provision on the floor of the House. However, the final outcome is a sad reminder that, when it comes to homeland security, the rhetoric of Congress is not being matched by action.”