House votes to ban acceptance of consular IDs

House lawmakers tentatively okayed a measure banning the acceptance of Matricula Consular cards as identification.

Posted Updated
Rep Mike Hager
Laura Leslie

House lawmakers have given tentative approval to a measure that would ban government, police and schools in North Carolina from accepting Matricula Consular documents – or any other type of consular or embassy documents – to verify identity or residency.

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, said House Bill 33 is a “very simple bill” designed to target types of IDs that are “known for distribution to illegals.” He said the FBI, the TSA and the federal Department of Justice all agree that the Matricula Consular ID is not a secure document.

“The Matricula Consular is in reality not worth the paper or plastic it’s made out of,” said Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, who argued the IDs are often falsified. Cleveland claims the consular cards were developed by the Mexican government as “a way to legitimatize their nationals living north of the border.”

The measure would force a change in two Triangle cities, Carrboro and Durham, where the consular card is accepted as ID. 

“I just don’t understand it,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham. “It’s helping us in Durham with law enforcement.”

Luebke argued for an amendment to allow schools to accept consular IDs for parents seeking to pick up their children. Many school systems, including Wake’s, require people to show photo ID when picking up a student.

"The schools will really be in a bind," Luebke warned, if they can't accept consular ID from parents. 

But Hager spoke against it. “We’re going to ask teachers to release children to someone they may or may not know who has a potentially fraudulent ID?” he asked. 

The amendment failed, 50-66.

Democratic opponents of the measure called it a case of “Latino-bashing.”

During the floor debate, Rep. Diane Parfitt, D-Cumberland, said she googled “fake Matricula Consular” cards and got more than 13,000 results. But she said she got more than 700,000 results for a Google search for “fake N.C. IDs.” 

“We’re singling out a particular group of people here,” Parfitt argued. 

Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, noted that no one from the FBI, the state Attorney General’s Office, the State Highway Patrol or the DMV had requested or voiced support for the ban.

“There is absolutely no one in law enforcement at any level who cared enough about this bill to come down here and speak to us," Faison said. “The folks who showed up to push this bill were heavy into Latino-bashing, but they weren’t our elected officials.”

Other Democrats warned that the measure’s wording could have unforeseen consequences.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said he doesn’t doubt there are fraudulent consular IDs in circulation. "But to say that no consulate document from anywhere in the world” is accepted, he cautioned, “is a serious overreach that could cause all kinds of global ramifications for the state.”

H33 passed its first vote in the House 64-53, largely along party lines. It’s scheduled for a final vote Wednesday before moving on to the Senate.


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