Consulate Aids Those in Legal Limbo

Bookmark and Share

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - About 120 people visit the Mexican consulate in the state capital every day, driving for hours from as far as Tulsa, Okla., and Memphis, Tenn.

Some are seeking basic consulate services like help for someone in legal trouble or returning a deceased person to their homeland. Others come to obain a "matricula consular," a form of identification that the Mexican government makes available to Mexican nationals regardless of their immigration status.

(Related video: A conversation with the Mexican Consul for Arkansas, Andres Chao Ebergenyi.)

The card is accepted as a valid ID by many banks, which has drawn criticism from opponents of illegal immigration in the United States. They contend that the banks are providing incentive for illegal immigrants to stay in the country by knowingly allowing them to open accounts that they can use to send money back to Mexico.

at the Mexican consulate in Little Rock, Ark.
At the Mexican consulate in Little Rock, Ark. (Photo by Will Skowronski)

This use of "matricular consular" cards is another example of the limbo status surrounding illegal immigrants in the U.S.  The federal government builds a fence to keep them out and raids businesses hiring them, but doesn't stop banks from taking their business.

Nor is their legal status applied evenly across the country. One town -- or even a state -- might have its police department enforce immigration laws, while a neighboring jurisdiction will refuse to inquire about immigrant status. 

-- Will Skowronski