Rep. Tom Tancredo letter to Secretary Colin L. Powell on impending tidal wave of foreign ID cards for illegal aliens June 12, 2003

June 12, 2003

Secretary Colin L. Powell
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

The attached document indicates that our U.S. Embassy in Managua is requesting direction from you as to how they should proceed in the effort to aid the government of Nicaragua in the development of ID cards modeled on the matricula consular issued by the Mexican government. Mexican officials have publicly stated that this endeavor is part of a strategy to obtain a de facto amnesty for people living here illegally.

I realize that any foreign government has a right to issue identification cards to its citizens. That is not in dispute. However using their consular offices here as lobbying agents to help undermine our immigration laws is an outrage and the State Department's apparent acquiescence in this endeavor is even more incredible.

We anticipated and cautioned you in a letter on January 10 that unless you acted to discourage the acceptance of Mexican government's ID cards, other governments would follow suit. That is now happening. If you do not take steps to halt our cooperation and support of this practice, our country will see a virtual tidal wave of such cards issued to illegal alien by their embassies and consulates in the U.S.

There are several aspects of the matricular consular cards now issued by foreign governments that are extremely troubling. I have two questions:

1. What guidelines will you offer to our Embassy staff in other nations when those governments request our assistance in developing similar cards for their nationals living in the United States? Will our embassy staff be offering advice and assistance to the governments in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Iran if they seek to give documents to their nationals living in this country "regardless of the individual's legal status"?

2. How can this memo from Managua (attached) be interpreted as anything but aiding and abetting attempts by foreign governments to provide their nationals living illegally in the U.S. with documentation that would ease their entrance into American society?

In my previous communication of January 10, I asked if you have approved of this activity on the part of State Department staff. If you do not, what do you intend to do to stop it?

Mr. Secretary, this is an issue of enormous significance that has massive implications for our nation. In mid-May the Department of Homeland Security sent to the White House a Draft Policy Statement on the matricula consular cards. That Draft Policy Statement, which was the product of an interagency working group that included the State Department, expressly prohibits all federal agencies from accepting the cards or cooperating in their use by foreign nationals.

There are two very good reasons for opposing the use and proliferation of these identification cards. First, our acceptance of the cards, or our cooperation in their manufacture or distribution, provides tacit approval and encouragement for increased illegal immigration into the United States. This is true because no one needs these cards except persons residing here illegally. The second reason for rejecting these documents is that the process for verification of identify of the individual obtaining the card is very questionable. The only identification document issued by a foreign government our government should accept is a valid passport.

The State Department's current policy of ambiguity on this matter is interpreted as tacit approval by foreign governments. This will very likely have disastrous consequences for our nation. If the Administration has agreed to cooperate with this activity, the American people have a right to know. If it has not, please advise us of the steps being taken to halt it.

Thank you for your timely response.


Tom Tancredo

Member of Congress