Mexican consulate officials are not just sitting around the office waiting to help people — they have been traveling around the state bringing services to those who need them.
Consulate legal expert Alan Hubbard and other representatives visited Mesa Central Library in downtown Mesa on Saturday to answer questions and help Mexican nationals apply for consular identification cards. Hubbard and company have been visiting a different Arizona city one Saturday a month and issue about 200 cards during each trip.
The consular cards became a topic of national controversy this week when Democrats and Hispanic lawmakers on Wednesday criticized House approval of a measure that authorizes regulation of the card, with House Democratic Leader
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calling the Republicansponsored measure anti-Hispanic.
The provision would allow the State Department to require each country issuing consular cards to provide them only to citizens of that country and to verify identities. It also would provide penalties for countries that create a national security risk by not following the rules.
Supporters of the provision, an amendment to a bill authorizing State Department and foreign aid programs, say the cards are not reliable and can be falsely obtained because the Mexican government lacks a centralized computer database to detect duplicates and frauds.
However, Hubbard said the new cards, which debuted a year ago and feature security features such as a magnetic strip and holograms, are even more difficult to forge than Arizona driver’s licenses. As for the database, he said the consulate is working on it.
"You have to understand this is a gradual process," he said.
Hubbard also took the opportunity to dispel some common misconceptions about what the cards are used for and the purpose they serve.
The Phoenix consulate office’s primary purpose is to register all Mexican nationals within its jurisdiction, Hubbard said, which includes Maricopa County and northern Arizona. The cards serve as proof that a Mexican citizen has been registered.
The card does not provide illegal immigrants any additional rights or privileges, he added, although it can be useful as a secondary source of identification.
"The consular card isn’t taking the place of the requirements for any other type of card," he said.
Hubbard does not know what percentage of the cards are issued to illegal immigrants. "We don’t ask," he said.
However, applicants do have to prove they are Mexican citizens living inside the consulate’s jurisdiction, in addition to showing proof of identification.
Hubbard said about 25 percent of the people he meets during the consul general’s "mobile office" visits are turned away because they can’t satisfy the requirements. On average, about 400 people show up per visit.