IRS, U.S. Banks Accept Fraud-Prone Mexican ID That Lets Illegals Into U.S. Credit Market

By Tiffany Gabbay | October 21, 2008 | 8:16pm EDT
( - The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. banks have been allowing foreign nationals, many of whom are illegal aliens, to use a fraud-prone Mexican identifcation card that the FBI says is not "reliable" to obtain U.S. bank accounts and Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) and thus enter the U.S. credit market.

Mexican banks, meanwhile, do not accept the card--the Matricula Consular--as identification, according to the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

The credibility of the Matricula Consular card, which is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals in the U.S., is dubious at best, says Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the Republicans were in the majority.
“It troubles me that while banks in the U.S. have agreed to accept Matricula Consular cards as proof of identification, banks in Mexico do not,” Sensenbrenner told
“If Matricula Consular cards are not good enough to use there, then why should they be good enough to use here, in the U.S.?” Sensenbrenner asked.
He added: “If a Mexican national is present in the U.S. legally, then he or she does not need a Matricula Consular card, and moreover, should be in possession of more than a Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN) for identification purposes, such as a Permanent Resident (or “green card”) number.”
The Matricula Consular has been under scrutiny by various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on the ground that the authenticity of the documents used to obtain the Matricula cannot be accurately verified.
In 2003 testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on Matricula Consular cards, Steve McCraw, assistant director of the FBI’s Office of Intelligence said the U.S. government “has done an extensive amount of research on the Matricula Consular” to assess its "viability as a reliable means of identification.”
“The Department of Justice and the FBI have concluded that the Matricula Consular is not a reliable form of identification, due to the non-existence of any means of verifying the true identity of the card holder,” McCraw said.
He explained the basic “problems” with the Matricula Consular:
“First, the government of Mexico has no centralized database to coordinate the issuance of consar ID cards. This allows multiple cards to be issued under the same name, the same address, or with the same photograph,” McCraw said.
Further, McCraw testified, that the Mexican government “has no interconnected databases to provide intra-consular communication to be able to verify who has or has not applied for or received a consular ID card.”
“Third, the Government of Mexico issues the card to anyone who can produce a Mexican birth certificate and one other form of identity, including documents of very low reliability,” the FBI agent testified. “Mexican birth certificates are easy to forge and they are a major item on the product list of the fraudulent document trade currently flourishing across the country and around the world.”
McCraw told Congress that a September 2002 “bust” of a document-production operation in Washington state illustrated the size of the illegal documents trade.
“A huge cache of fake Mexican birth certificates was discovered,” he said. “It is our belief that the primary reason a market for these birth certificates exists is the demand for fraudulently-obtained Matricula Consular cards.”
ICE has also investigated the document counterfeiting industry.
After a five year investigation, starting in 2000, the agency obtained an indictment against Pedro Castorena-Ibarra, a Mexican national who it described as “the leader of a large-scale criminal organization involved in manufacturing and distributing counterfeit identity documents, including resident alien cards, Social Security cards, Mexico Matricula Consular ID cards, driver’s licenses and identity documents from various states of Mexico and the United States.”
When asked about the reliability of the Matricula Consular card, ICE spokeswoman Cori Bassett told that Matriculas “are not valid for work authorization in the United States” nor are they “listed on the I-9 form as an acceptable form of ID.”
“We’ve arrested folks who (individually) have had multiple (Matricula) cards, each card with a different identity” Bassett said. The Matricula, she added, can be easily “counterfeited.”
In an attempt to improve the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in an effort to combat terrorism and reduce fraud, Congress passed Sensenbrenner's REAL ID Act in 2005.
Matricula Consular cards should not be accepted as valid for the purpose of obtaining U.S. identification, Sensenbrenner told
“The REAL ID bill signed into law prohibits the use of foreign documents as supportive documents,” he said. “Clearly, Matricula Consular cards, which are issued by Mexico, constitute a foreign document.”
Although the bill was passed in 2005, and became law, the Department of Homeland Security has issued extensions to states and U.S. territories, which claim they cannot yet meet all the requirements of the legislaiton. Some extensions for completing full implementation of REAL ID are good until May 2011.
Attempts to obtain comment from the Mexican government through the Mexican Consulate in Washington, D.C., were not successful.

According to a 2006 Government Accountability Office report, "almost all" of the 530,000 people who filed tax returns in the U.S. in 2001 using an ITIN rather than Social Security Number were illegal aliens.

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