A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives approved on Wednesday a measure to end a 2011 law that prohibits state and local governments from recognizing consular identification cards.
The proposal allows photo ID cards issued by a foreign consulate to be recognized statewide as a valid form of identification, if biometric verification like fingerprints and retina scans are used.
A 2011 state law barred the use of consular cards as valid identification in Arizona as part of a larger effort at the time to pass legislation to push immigrants with no authorization to live and work in the country out of the state.
For the past several years, Democratic lawmakers proposed bills to end the prohibition on recognizing foreign consular cards. Advocates had argued, for example, that Mexico’s government uses the same security standards to issue a consular card — known as “matrícula consular” — that they use for a passport, which is an accepted form of photo ID in Arizona. Last year, a Republican-sponsored bill passed the House but never got considered in the Senate when the session was abruptly halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure, Senate Bill 1420, is expected to impact Arizona residents who are citizens of Mexico and Guatemala, which have consulates that issue photo IDs that meet the fingerprint and retina scans requirements. The bill is now awaiting action by Gov. Doug Ducey, who can sign it into law or veto it.
Jorge Mendoza Yescas, consul general of Mexico in Phoenix, said Wednesday was “a great day for the Arizona-Mexico relationship.”
Today, the Arizona State Legislature passed bill #SB1420 to accept Consular Identifications in Arizona.
The bill sends a message of friendship to Mexico, Arizona’s top trading partner. ????? pic.twitter.com/VybijUVilF
— Consulmex Phoenix (@ConsulMexPho) February 25, 2021
Last year, Mendoza Yescas told the Arizona Mirror that the Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix (which covers all of Arizona except its southern region) had issued approximately 160,000 consular cards since 2007, he said. The matrículas are used to register Mexican citizens who live abroad, and can be used in any transaction with the Mexican government, both in the country and outside. The cards don’t verify the person’s U.S. immigration status.
SB1420 was introduced by Paul Boyer, R-Glendale. An identical measure in the House, House Bill 2458, was sponsored by Rep. David Cook, R-Globe.