WASHINGTON – A group that advocates stricter immigration laws charges that scores of states and localities in the past two years have adopted policies that run counter to the federal government’s anti-terrorism strategy.
In a 10-page report issued Tuesday, the Federation for American Immigration Reform criticized states that issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and localities that recognize an identification card issued by the Mexican government to its citizens living abroad.
“Despite the federal government’s increased push to tie immigration enforcement to national security, states (and localities) continue to adopt policies that fly in the face of federal immigration law,” FAIR Executive Director Dan Stein said.
The findings sharply contrast with a report issued earlier this summer by a group of immigration experts at the Migration Policy Institute. The experts argued that the Bush administration’s stricter immigration policies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had failed to protect the United States from future attacks and hurt the country’s image abroad.
FAIR’s report was released only weeks before the two-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. All 19 men who carried out the attacks were from the Middle East and had entered the United States with valid visas issued by the State Department.
The attacks exposed weaknesses and loopholes in the country’s border security system, prompting the demise of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and creation of the Homeland Security Department.
FAIR officials said 14 states still issue driver’s licenses without verifying a driver’s immigration status, even though several Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists had obtained such licenses.
They also were critical of the more than 800 police departments and more than a dozen states that have adopted policies to accept the Mexican matricula consular as valid identification. The Mexican government has issued at least 1.5 million matriculas to its citizens living in the United States during the past two years.
“(Acceptance) policies are being set community by community, city by city, and state by state, based more on political considerations that on national security imperatives,” the report said.
FAIR officials said the matricula legitimizes the presence of millions of undocumented Mexican immigrants.
The Bush administration is reviewing the federal government’s policy toward identification cards issued by foreign governments, including the matricula. Recommendations are expected to be made before the end of the year.
FAIR officials said they hope their report will pressure the Bush administration and Congress to punish those states and localities that don’t cooperate with the federal government.
“Unless the White House exerts leadership, the state patchwork of inconsistent and incompatible policies will continue to be a primary avenue used by foreign terrorists to exploit weaknesses in our national immigration system,” Stein said.