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Latino Daily News

Friday March 11, 2011

UPDATE: Texas Bill That Would Deny MX Consul Officials Entry to State Schools is Heard in Court

UPDATE: Texas Bill That Would Deny MX Consul Officials Entry to State Schools is Heard in Court

Photo: State Rep. José Menendez

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Wednesday, a bill to keep officials from the Mexican Consulate off Texas campuses for the purpose of helping students with their matricula consular applications was heard by a House panel.

The Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS or Consular Identification Card) is simply an identification card that is issued by the Government of Mexico by way of its consulate offices. It is given to Mexican nationals residing outside Mexico no matter their immigration status.

Though the writer of the bill (HB 428), State Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) was not present at Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) read a statement on his behalf. The statement included Fletcher’s acknowledgement that he was unaware of any problems the Mexican Consular staff had caused on Texas college campuses, but that HB 428 was more of a preventive measure.

At the hearing, there were no witnesses in favor of the measure, and one of the committee members, state Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), strongly opposed the bill, saying that “on its surface” this is “a real non-issue bill.”

While the cards are primarily used as just a form of identification and to prove Mexican citizenship – mostly for students studying in the U.S. – it can also be used to open U.S. bank accounts. Menendez pointed to this as a good thing, saying he would prefer that international students have their money in banks, governed by U.S. laws, rather than stuffing “cash under their mattresses.”

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ORIGINAL STORY:

A Texas state representative is trying to “send a message” to undocumented immigrants, by drafting and filing a bill that looks to deny entry onto public schools and state universities to foreign consular officials that arrive to help anyone obtain non-U.S. identification cards.

State Representative Allen Fletcher, who wrote House Bill 428 that was just filed, said, “The bottom line is we’re trying to keep foreign consuls from being on our campuses. I don’t like them using our public facilities and our schools to basically access the foreign nationals that are in our country and give them an opportunity to take advantage of our benefits when they’re here illegally.”

The Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS or Consular Identification Card) is an identification card issued to Mexican nationals residing outside of Mexico regardless of their immigration status. The card is issued by the Government of Mexico through their consulate offices.

During his interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, the state rep., who spent 21 years with the Houston Police Department admitted to not knowing exactly what the cards can be used for, but added, ““Basically a matrícula card is just some legitimate form of ID. I would think that if you have that matrícula card you have an ID that allows you to basically interject yourself into the system,”

Fletcher, a “career enforcement guy” was asked what someone needs to gain the identification cards and said he was unsure, but stated, “…Probably tell them your name is Allen Fletcher, and they crank it out for you. I’m under the impression, based on what I’ve seen that they’re not really requiring (applicants) to provide much of anything.”

In the interview Fletcher mentioned that though he thinks a similar bill will never pass in Texas, he is a supporter of Arizona’s SB 1070.  The controversial law allows for local officers to ask for proof of immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” to think someone is in the country illegally. Fletcher expressed that instead of trying to pass big law changing bills like SB 1070, Texas lawmakers are looking to smaller bills to “send a message” to anyone in the country without documentation.

“(HB 428) is a judicious way for us to start putting things in place to make it more difficult for them to access our public benefits illegally. So we’re hoping this will get their attention and let them know: ‘You’re not going to go onto our school grounds, you’re not going to go onto our public facilities and issue these cards, without making sure that folks have a legitimate right to have the card’.”