July 22, 2004
The Gilbert Human Relations Commission today will finally have its chance to ask the Gilbert Town Council to recognize the Mexican identification card.
But the commission’s recommendation — which has been a year in the making—may fall on deaf ears.
A majority of the Town Council has expressed concern with Gilbert officially recognizing the Matricula Consular, which is issued by the Mexican government to Mexican citizens living abroad without checking immigration status. Card supporters say it helps immigrants file police reports, open bank accounts and provides a sense of dignity, while critics argue the card encourages illegal immigration.
"The real agenda here is trying to change the U.S. immigration law, which is not for the town of Gilbert to do and sure isn’t anything for the Human Relations Commission to do," Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman said.
Councilman Steve Urie said: "For me it’s a nonissue and I do not want to be played into a bigger agenda knowingly or unknowingly."
The council cannot officially vote to recognize the card at today’s session, but can decide whether to move forward with a vote or to reject the request.
The Human Relations Commission is asking the council to accept the Matricula Consular for any purpose in which identification is required by the town, to encourage businesses to accept the card and extend the policy to consular identification cards issued by other foreign countries. Today, Gilbert does not require a photo identification to receive town services.
Commission chairwoman Tami Smull said the group has extensively studied the card and prepared a detailed report that includes the new safety features of the card and a study on the economic impact of the Mexico-Arizona relationship. The recommendation is not a statement of position or an endorsement of illegal immigration, the report says.
"I’m delighted to finally be able to make a presentation to the council," Smull said. "The purpose of the commission is to advise the council on issues important to the community and the importance of the card shows up with the passion from those both in favor and opposed."
Smull said she recognizes that the card has been a controversial topic in Gilbert, which is evidenced by the more than 20 e-mails received by the town this week from Gilbert and non-Gilbert residents.
Every e-mail opposed recognition of the card.
Gilbert Human Relations Commission
What: Gilbert Town Council/joint meeting to discuss Matricula Consular, or Mexican ID card
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Gilbert Municipal Center, 50 E. Civic Center Drive
Information: (480) 503-6871