Mexico ID Cards Backed

Times Staff Writer

Oxnard is poised to become the first city in Ventura County to allow Mexican immigrants to use their country's identification card to do business at city offices.

Following the lead of Ventura County supervisors, a majority of Oxnard City Council members say they support use of the so-called matricula consular as valid ID for everything from establishing water service to applying for a library card.

The council is set today to consider a resolution pledging to accept the card as official identification for Mexican nationals -- legal or illegal -- living and working in the city.

"I'm in favor of it," Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez said. "Identification is needed for everything these days, and it will certainly make it easier for people to do business with the city."

County supervisors unanimously agreed in October to adopt a similar resolution, saying it would make it easier for Mexican nationals residing here to obtain marriage certificates, business licenses and other services.

California and a handful of local governments across the state -- including Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties -- also have started accepting the cards.

And institutions such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America now accept the matricula as formal ID. That is viewed by immigration advocates as especially important because immigrants who are unable to open bank accounts have been targeted by thieves who know they carry large amounts of cash.

Advocates of immigration control have fought those efforts, arguing that they grant a form of legal status to illegal immigrants who have broken laws to enter the country.

Others, including Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), have argued that the cards should not be used as official ID because they are issued by a foreign government and the United States has no control over who gets them.

Mexican Consul Fernando Gamboa said his Oxnard office issues about 1,000 identification cards a week to Mexican immigrants in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Immigrants are more likely to report crimes and cooperate with police if they know they have some form of identification accepted by authorities, he said. Gamboa said that illegal immigrants could not use the cards to obtain government benefits, alter their legal status or get driver's licenses.

Acceptance of the card is vital because officials are looking more closely at identification cards since 9/11, he added.

Gamboa plans to lobby the cities of Ventura and Camarillo for similar resolutions.

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