The Matricula Consular: The Only Card an Illegal Immigrant Will Ever Need

The "matricula consular" is an identification card issued by a Mexican consulate.  It is designed to be used by illegal immigrants[i].  With this card they can receive federal, state, and local benefits.  The ID card is little-known outside the Hispanic community.

The story of the matricula consular[ii] is telling: it proves that government entities, particularly those of the state of Illinois and Cook County, Illinois and other "sanctuary" states, knowingly and actively promote illegal immigration.  In this time of joblessness and home foreclosures, it is astounding that politicians in pro-illegal immigration states have made great efforts to make this card available.  In effect, the cards create a huge financial burden for legal residents and legal immigrants.  Since the state of Illinois has been called "the most pro-illegal immigration state" in the country, its efforts to enable and promote the matricula consular will be discussed here.  Other states such as California have also endorsed the card.

The most important thing to understand about illegal immigration is that it is happening not by accident[iii].  It "officially" began in Chicago, Illinois on March 7, 1985, when Chicago's Mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order to make benefits available to all "residents" regardless of citizenship status[iv].  Since that time, particularly after 1990, the illegal immigration movement in the U.S. accelerated.  Mexico has a financial interest in promoting the illegal immigration of its citizens to the U.S. since they send "remittance" money back to relatives and family in Mexico and other countries.  This amount of money is so large -- $18 billion in 2005 -- that it is second in amount only to the money Mexico makes from its lucrative oil export business. 

The most aggressive effort to push the matricula consular card came after 2000 when the U.S. went into recession and the flow of immigrants slowed down.  Mexico's President Vincente Fox revamped the card and had it include a photo.  He was concerned with serving Mexican citizens who lived abroad.  The plastic card contains a photo of its bearer, identical to a state ID card or driver's license. 

Remarkably, the standards for issuing matricula consular cards are so lax that the cards have no legitimate security function.  No major bank in Mexico will accept the card as a form of ID when someone opens a simple bank account, and two-thirds of the states of Mexico will not recognize it as valid[v].  I personally saw a matricula consular card that listed the birthplace of its bearer as "Hidalgo, Michigan."  A place called Hidalgo does not exist in the state of Michigan and never has. 

While the card was aggressively and openly issued at shopping malls, churches, and school parking lots across the country[vi], local TV and print media largely intentionally neglected to report on the widespread issuance of the card.  The sheer number of matricula consular cards indicates how widespread the phenomenon is: by 2002, some 1,040,934 million cards had been issued[vii].

In Illinois and Cook County (the county that contains Chicago), the matricula consular was promoted very energetically by politicians.  In 2005 the state of Illinois passed a law that stated that the matricula consular card functions as a valid ID, as valid as an official state-issued ID, in Illinois.  This means that it can be used for voting.  Those who have the card can also get a marriage license (the City Clerk's website clearly states that a matricula consular card is all the ID that one needs); homestead exemption refund that goes back for years; and numerous other federal, city, and county benefits including health care, library cards, and bank accounts.  Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies found that illegal immigrant families obtain 25 different benefits, not including education and health care[viii].

Robert Maldonado, who worked in Mayor Washington's administration at the time the mayor started Chicago on its sanctuary status, later became a Cook County commissioner.  As a commissioner, he sponsored a resolution to make the matricula consular a valid form of ID in Cook County, going so far as to state in the resolution that the card functions as a "passport" for those returning to Mexico. 

By comparison, Indiana, a state located right next to Illinois, follows the U.S. Dept. of State guidelines and has not recognized the matricula consular card.

Mexico's consular card is not the only one that is recognized by Cook County.  Roberto Maldonado generously included in his resolution a clause stating that all central and South American countries may issue matricula consular cards, and these will all be accepted in Cook County as a valid form of ID.  It should be noted that no one in Cook County, whether the mayor of Chicago or a commissioner, has the legal authority to decide what form of ID a foreign national may carry.  Only the U.S. State Dept. or Dept. of Homeland Security has that authority.  However, Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley once said to the Supreme Court that "the Second Amendment doesn't apply to Chicago" -- only to states -- and he also issued a Sanctuary Policy in his first day in office[ix].

The most outrageous and economically damaging use for the matricula consular ID was promoted by Illinois's former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of corruption.  His "Opportunity I-Loan" home mortgage program allow "immigrants and minorities" who "had no credit history social security numbersto obtain home mortgage loans backed by the state of Illinois. This policy and the bureaucratic culture of illegal entitlements helped create the mortgage meltdown"[x].

Most illegal immigrants are Hispanic, and most are from Mexico[xi].  The matricula consular card has been so successful in helping to support illegal immigration that now, 1 in 9 people ever born in Mexico has moved to the U.S.[xii].  And 19 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the United States would have lost population [xiii]if not for increases in the Hispanic segment of their populations.  This effort to stem population loss is the major reason why illegal immigration has been promoted by the government, as I have shown [xiv].

Michael Bargo Jr is the author of Mexicago: How the Chicago Political Machine created Sanctuary Policy to Exploit Immigrants and Grow Government, 2012.  Available at Ebook on

[i] IDs for illegals: The 'Matricula Consular' Advances Mexico's Immigration Agenda," Marti Dinerstein, Center for Immigration Studies, Jan. 2003.  P. 1

[ii]  Id.

[iii] "Mexicago," Bargo

[iv] Mayor Harold Washington, Executive Order 85-1, March 7, 1985.

[v]  Dinerstein, Id.

[vi]  Dinerstein, Id.

[vii]  Dinerstein, id.

[viii]  "The High cost of cheap labor: Illegal immigration and the Federal budget." Center for Immigration Studies, Aug. 2004.

[ix] City of Chicago Executive Order 89-6, Mayor Richard M. Daley, issued April 25, 1989.

[x]  See "Mexicago" by Michael Bargo Jr.

[xi]   Passel, J. & Cohn, D. "Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010." Pew Hispanic Center, Feb. 2, 2011, p. 30.

[xii]  "Mexican Immigrants in the United States," Fact Sheet, Pew Hispanic Center, April 15, 2009. p. 2.  Source:

[xiii]  "Racial Change," Table 3, p. 4.

[xiv] In "Mexicago."  See author's credit above.

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