November 25, 2003

Matricula Consular Cards

In my quest to stay awake while driving, I often turn to NPR for a shot of good old adrenaline pumping outrage. NPR is usually good about that sort of thing and my children should probably send them a check someday for keeping daddy from driving into a ditch all those years (they'll get my check the day they stop getting my tax dollars).

This morning they had a segment on Mexico's matricula consulara cards and how the rest of South America is getting into the act. One of their interview snippets on the line at the Guatamalan consular office was of a woman who said that if she died in a car accident, they wouldn't even know who she was. I thought that's why they issue passports. In fact, a lot of the security arguments over the matricula cards would be eliminated if they simply had a method of putting current address in the passport. It's an internationally recognized document. There isn't any confusion over what you're allowed to do with it or not, and that last bit seems to be the point of the entire matricula exercise. It's a disingenuous exercise in end running the US immigration system.

I'm in favor of increasing immigration to the US coupled with increasing education efforts to integrate immigrants into the US, especially the ideas and traditions of the US. I don't think there's anything wrong with the melting pot concept and wish we had more efforts to make residents into americans, an exercise that Steven Den Beste rightfully identifies as an entirely mental process, the acceptance of the idea of America.

What I worry about is migration without integration. The creation of cultural islands where immigrants can bring and replicate the bad habits that made the land of their births something they wished to escape from. So next time you find somebody talking positively about the matricula phenomenon, play a little mental exercise with them. Ask them what's wrong with passports? Why not change the rights you have with passports (which are subject to a lot of international security regulations and are well established) so that those documents get you the rights matricula advocates want for those cards? The problems and prospects are identical except that passports are more secure, after all. So why a new ID? All involved might be surprised at the direction such a conversation would turn to.

Posted by TMLutas at November 25, 2003 11:37 AM