Earlier this year, the Arizona Legislature considered a sweeping immigration omnibus bill that was often referred to as “SB-1070 on steroids.” The legislation would have required parents to provide proof of their childrens’ immigration status when enrolling them in school, prevented undocumented immigrants from driving, and seized their car if they did, among other things. The measure failed, but the Arizona Republic points out today that one smaller bill managed to pass:
Starting July 20, state and local government entities no longer can recognize photo-ID cards issued by foreign consulates. The cards often are the sole form of photo identification for individuals living in another country who do not have a passport or a local driver’s license.
Some state lawmakers have been trying to pass the law for years as part of a larger push to keep illegal immigrants out of Arizona. They say the ID cards are too easy to fraudulently attain and give the inaccurate impression that all cardholders are in the country legally.
State Sen. Ron Gould (R), who sponsored the bill, was motivated by the concern that the Mexican government does not adequately verify the identity of individuals before issuing cards. “This is not a secure method of ID,” Gould said.
The Mexican consulate denied Gould’s claims, stating that cards are issued “solely upon a rigorous confirmation of nationality, local residence and identity.” Meanwhile, the law’s critics believe that it will only lead to more fraud and insecurity. While foreign nationals will continue to be able to use the consulate cards at private businesses, individuals will no longer be able to use them to obtain a library card or as an official means of identification during an investigation. Immigration advocates argue this will largely dissuade undocumented immigrants from reporting crimes.
Connie Andersen of the Valley Interfaith Project said, “People need a way to identify themselves in order to report crime when they are a victim or witness, and they were accustomed to using (consular) ID…This tells them they have to put that away. Some people don’t have alternative forms of ID. Now, they’re not sure what to do.”
Lawmakers have been trying to pass this law for more than 10 years. Former Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) vetoed similar bills in the past over concerns that “if immigrants can’t use consular cards, they’re likely to seek forgeries of drivers’ licenses and social security cards.” “While it is positioned by the bill’s sponsor as a quote – anti-illegal immigration measure – it’s an anti-law enforcement measure,” Napolitano reasoned in 2007.
Over 30 states accept the consulate-issued photo-ID cards for foreign nationals. Indiana, however, recently passed a law that makes it illegal to use the IDs. The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s measure, stating, “This law marginalizes entire communities by criminalizing commonly accepted forms of identification. The law also undermines our most cherished constitutional safeguards by putting Indiana residents at risk of unlawful warrantless arrests without any suspicion of wrongdoing, much less criminal activity.”