Arizona to accept consular ID cards as valid identification

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona is changing state law to accept consular identification cards as legal forms of identification.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed into law a bill to reverse a state law that was one of the remaining statutes passed during the height of fervor in Arizona against illegal immigration, The Arizona Republic reported.

The state Legislature in 2011 outlawed the use of the cards as a valid form of identification, forcing many people living in the state without legal authorization to be in the U.S. to leave. The 2011 law will be reversed once the new measure takes effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends.

Ducey praised the bipartisan support of the bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Paul Boyer. It passed the state Legislature on Feb. 24.

“The bill does not authorize any new rights or responsibilities for non-citizens,” Ducey said. “It simply recognizes that governments in Arizona will accept cards issued by countries who use strict biometrics identity verification techniques as lawful identification.”

The changes apply only to consular ID cards that use biometric features such as retina scans or fingerprints, including cards issued by the Mexican and Guatemalan governments and their consulates in Arizona.

The Mexican Consulate in Phoenix, the state’s largest consular office, said it issues about 1,500 cards a month, and has issued more than 100,000 in the Phoenix office alone.

Mexican Consul General Jorge Mendoza Yescas in Phoenix said the bill signing is the culmination of several years meeting with mayors and law enforcement agencies around the state to increase support for the change.

“It’s a very important gesture from the governor towards Mexico and an acknowledgment of the importance he and his government places on the contributions of Mexicans to the state, and obviously to Arizona’s main trading partner, which is Mexico,” he said.

The cards can be used for multiple services, including paying for traffic tickets, setting up utilities and enrolling children in school. The new law is expected to mostly benefit immigrants living in Arizona illegally without access to any other types of state or federal identification, including driver’s licenses.