The consul general of Mexico in Raleigh on Tuesday urged the Orange County Board of Commissioners to recognize the importance of consular identification cards.
The cards, which serve as a basic identification for Mexican citizens living abroad, have been an issue of contention among state legislators.
Earlier this year, the N.C. House of Representatives passed House Bill 33, which states that the card will not be “acceptable for use in determining a person’s actual identity or residency.”
The bill is awaiting a read in the rules committee of the N.C. Senate.
Consul General Carlos Flores Vizcarra said that while the cards do not specify the cardholder’s legal residency status, they do include a picture, address, birth date and other information and should be recognized as identification.
“It is perhaps the most basic document that Mexicans can bear with them and be allowed to be identified by anyone in the U.S.,” he said.
The cards can be used by their holders for a variety of purposes, such as providing identification for birth certificates, opening bank accounts and enrolling children in school, Vizcarra said.
He also mentioned that without the cards, local law enforcement would not be able to identify many Mexican nationals.
Because undocumented Mexican residents cannot obtain documents like U.S. passports or driver’s licenses, the consular card provides Mexicans with a sense of identity, said Jose Torres-Don, an undocumented immigrant who works with the N.C. DREAM Team.
“Having a document that says who you are is important, it’s basically an acknowledgement of your existence,” Torres-Don said. “It’s sort of a way to facilitate pride, not illegal immigrants.”
Torres-Don said he would like Orange County to advocate the continued acceptance of the consular ID.
“You’re not going to be able to deport everyone, so these people are left in the shadows,” Torres-Don said.
But Orange County commissioners might have little say in whether or not the ID can be a viable source of identification in the county, said Steve Yuhasz, vice chairman of the board.
“We would have authority to accept or reject the cards for purposes that the commissioners are authorized, such as for social or health department services,” Yuhasz said.
But he said ultimately, regulations concerning identification fall mostly to state and local government.
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