October 19, 2007

ID card may prevent illegal immigrant arrests in Irving

Mayor, Mexican consul meet on immigration, deportation issues

05:07 AM CDT on Friday, October 19, 2007

Illegal immigrants may be able to avoid being arrested in Irving if they can provide police with a Mexican identification card, a utility bill or a similar document, the city's mayor said Thursday.

"You have a better chance if you can identify yourself," Mayor Herbert Gears said after meeting with immigration-rights activists. "If you can't identify yourself, you're going to have no chance."

The acceptance of the Mexican ID, known as a matrícula consular, and other documents besides state-issued ID cards comes as activists have encouraged the mayor to help prevent more people from being deported as part of the Criminal Alien Program. Irving officials began using the program in September 2006 and have since turned more than 1,600 arrestees over to federal authorities for deportation.

Mr. Gears explained that if someone is stopped for a traffic violation, that person's chances of avoiding jail will be better with proof of identification. If the police can confirm someone's identity, that person will be issued a citation and let go.

"If you can't identify yourself otherwise and you don't have a license, you will definitely be arrested," Mr. Gears said.

The Mexican Consulate will open a mobile office in Irving to issue the identification cards, but Mexican Consul Enrique Hubbard Urrea and Mr. Gears emphasized that Irving won't accept the cards as official documents, only as a way of identifying someone.

"They are accepting that they believe that this person is who they say they are," Mr. Gears said.

The mayor also agreed to help create an educational campaign to inform people of immigration laws.

Mr. Hubbard, who attended the meeting, said he was pleased with the efforts to resolve immigration issues in Irving.

"We hope that we have moved to a different stage, one of negotiations and understanding," he said. "It has been a fruitful meeting."

One of the activists who attended the meeting, Carlos Quintanilla of Acción América, also saw it as a sign of progress.

"We have come to an agreement between our community and the city of Irving to start a dialogue and work together," he said.

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