Matricula Madness at Proof Bar

Can a Mexican consular ID be used to prove you're of legal drinking age? The answer is not as simple as ABC

Santoros, a Los Angeles-based psychedelic-folk band, were set to hit the stage for a free, Sunday-night show at Downtown Santa Ana's Proof Bar. For the band, it was going to be their first time playing in Santa Ana; the musicians were looking forward to making new fans and playing for friends.

But only silence would take the stage on May 15, with the group, plus openers Them Howling Bones and Moondog Orchestra, deciding to cancel their performances. When asked for ID upon their arrival, two members of Santoros had neither a California driver's license nor a Mexican passport on them. So they presented to Proof's security guard what are known as Matrícula Consular cards: ID cards issued by Mexican consulates in the U.S. that Mexican nationals can obtain by presenting copies of either a birth certificate or passport coupled with an additional form of identification, plus utility bills to prove place of residency.

The cards weren't good enough for the doorman or Proof owner Joey Mendes, who decided the two band members would have to stay outside the bar until Santoros' set time. "We felt really insulted," says Uriel Jimenez. "We drove all that way and were going to play for free."

Mike Hirshon

Jimenez says the bar owner claimed he could get in trouble with the city. In several interviews with the Weekly, however, Mendes has maintained that he never mentioned the city in the exchange. (According to the Santa Ana city attorney's office, the city has no policy for citing drinking establishments for admitting patrons on the basis of a Matrícula.)

Mendes says his concerns were actually with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). "I can't accept the Matrícula Consular, as per the ABC," he says. He also says one of the cards "was clearly fake."

For their part, the band insist that no other venue they've played in Southern California has had similar concerns. Another musician with a band who have played at Proof Bar before, who asked not to be named, says one of its members possesses only a Mexican Consular ID and has encountered nothing akin to what happened to Santoros that night.

The cards, more than 380,000 of which were issued in California in 2007 (the most recent year for which numbers are available from a Mexican-government website), have attracted some controversy in recent years from anti-immigration forces, even though they do not include any information about immigration status. They do, however, cite a date of birth. So, should bar owners such as Mendes be comfortable admitting patrons with only a Matrícula as proof of legal drinking age? While it might appear to be a simple question, finding the answer is a bit more complicated.

On the issue of what is accepted as proof of legal drinking age in California, ABC spokesman John Carr cited Section 25660 of the California Business and Professions Code (from the ABC Act of 2011, the last time the law was revised), which holds that a passport issued by a foreign government complies with state law. As for an ID card issued by a foreign government's U.S. consulates, Carr's at first replied, "It certainly can."

But after double-checking with the ABC's legal department, the spokesman changed his response. "Mexican Consular IDs do not comply," he clarified. "It is my understanding that these IDs do not have [a] physical description and they are not passports."

Yet a recent case involving using a Matrícula as proof of age seems to open up further questions. On April 28, an administrative-law judge ruled in favor of the ABC in an appeal against the agency brought by a Rancho Cordova liquor store (Nav Food Store, LLC v. Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control). In 2008, then-19-year-old Arnulfo Ramirez-Zarazua purchased a 12-pack of Budweiser from Harry's Liquor & Food. An ABC investigator followed Ramirez-Zarazua outside and determined and confirmed his minor status via his Matrícula Consular card.

When the Weekly presented the Nav Food Store decision and the procedural precedent to the ABC, the department's legal unit responded, "It is not inconsistent for the department to rely on a Matrícula card to identify a person without it constituting 'bona-fide identification' for purposes of the statutory defense," adding, "Essentially, a document used to verify a person's age and identity does not need to meet the same standards as those required to establish a statutory defense to an action."

What, exactly, does that mean in practice? According to Chris Albrecht, deputy division chief of the ABC, "If an investigator comes upon that situation [a person with a valid Matrícula inside a drinking establishment], they would not have probable cause to arrest that person, nor would they have any grounds for formal action against the establishment owner." As for the presence of a such a patron at an establishment in the first place? "It is absolutely correct that it is not illegal for a person of age possessing only a valid Matrícula card to be present in a 21-and-over bar," Albrecht says. "There is nothing in the law that prohibits that."

Given these distinctions, perhaps consular IDs will be declared in legislation to be "bona-fide identification," as military IDs and passports were on Jan. 1, 2010.

But at this time, they are not. Mendes maintains he acted properly and in the best interests of his business that night.

The Weekly first reported on the issue on its Heard Mentality blog on May 24, inspiring many responses. Mendez takes issue with those commenters who paint his exclusion of the Matrícula-toting musicians as ethnically motivated. "This whole issue is one of age, not race" he says. "As a bar owner, determining the age of a prospective patron to my establishment is fraught with pitfalls, gray areas and attempts at deception.

"The only bona-fide form of foreign identification that I can use to determine someone's age is a passport," Mendes continues. "Any other means of determining age opens me, my business and my staff up to an extensive and sometimes confusing maze of liability."

Portions of this story were originally published on the Weekly's Heard Mentality blog. Click HERE and HERE.

This article appeared in print as "Matrícula Madness: An incident at a Santa Ana bar shows that using an ID card issued by the Mexican consulate to prove you're over 21 is not as simple as ABC."

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15 comments
Tony Kushes
Tony Kushes

So other establishments such as the Orange County Jail accepts this type of ID but a Bar does not. Makes a lot of sense doesn't it. It's called racism , alive and well even in Stabba Ana..pathetic if u ask me. Sounds like someone taking their job way too serious..

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Excholo
Excholo

Any true artist would have waited outside for his gig to begin. Oh you fell slighted because you couldnt drink some over priced beers with your homies before the gig? Get over it, get your ID issues in order so you dont have this happen again! I've worked the front door before and when you ID isnt in order, no go ! Troble with the ABC for out weighs any MOJADO with his feeling hurt!!

Ocguy2010
Ocguy2010

If they're a "Los Angeles based band" I assume that means they live here in the US. If they live here in the US, they should be citizens or legal residents and therefore have US identification, no? Enough of this nonsense and this ridiculous catering to the Mexican government.

fretsward
fretsward

This sham identity card is issued by the sham Mexican government to illegal aliens, which they want to be officially recognized within the United States.

The matricula consular is useful in the US for illegal aliens only, since legal immigrants, by definition, have US government-issued documents.

The Mexican government has launched an aggressive grassroots lobbying campaign to win acceptance for its matricula card from state and local jurisdictions and from banks, especially in areas where Mexican illegal aliens are so dense you can't see your shadow when walking.

The objective of this Mexican meddling effort is to achieve quasi-legal status for Mexican illegal aliens in the US without waiting for action from Washington.

The matricula itself, however, is useful to illegal aliens only insofar as US institutions are willing to collaborate with Mexico’s efforts to circumvent US immigration law while maintaining their laws, which are the toughest immigration laws on the continent.

While many jurisdictions have resisted pressure from the Mexican government, others have not; the matricula is now accepted by 800 local law enforcement agencies and 74 banks, as well as by 13 states for purposes of obtaining a driver’s license.

Not only does the matricula subvert US immigration law (what would we expect from Mexico or Mexicans?), it is not even a secure identity document. Mexico is not authenticating the documents used to obtain the matricula against computerized data files in Mexico and no major bank in Mexico accepts the card to open an account and the cards are recognized as IDs in only 7 of Mexico's 32 states and districts.

Safeguards are not in place to prevent multiple issuance of matriculas to the same individual; in fact, the INS has already reported finding multiple cards in different names issued to the same person (what else would we expect?)

The matricula is becoming a shield that hides criminal activity for two reasons: first, the holder’s identity was not verified when the card was issued, and second, police in jurisdictions that accept the matricula are less likely to run background checks on card holders picked up for minor infractions.

The US Treasury Department has given its approval to banks to accept the matricula for opening bank accounts thanks to subversive Hispanics in the US Treasury suchas Rosario Marin, Anna Escobedo Cabral, Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, Katherine D. Ortega, and Rosa Gumataotao Rios. The US Treasury gave banks permission to accept the matricula. A key factor influencing the banking community to accept the matricula is its belief that the US Treasury Department has given its approval.19 “Under section 326(b) of the USA Patriot Act, Congress directed that Treasury, in consultation with the federal functional regulators and other relevant agencies, study and provide recommendations for enhancing the ability of domestic financial institutions to verify the identity of foreign nationals thanks to Rosario Marin under George W. Bush.

The acceptance of Mexico’s sham cartoon matricula consular sets a precedent (how low can you go), making it almost impossible to reject similar cards presented by illegal aliens from other countries, including those which have sent terrorists to the United States in the past.

Issued on same-day basis, even in remote locations. Given the sheer volume of the matriculas being issued (40 million illegal aliens in the US) and the physical conditions under which this is accomplished, it is easy to understand why this ID is not accepted in Mexico. The “new and improved” matricula has been a runaway best seller with Mexican illegal aliens living in the United States. The demand exceeds the ability of consulars to process all of the people waiting in long lines.

The only people who benefit from having such an ID are those who have come illegally and have broken our laws." This ID card is essentially a back door attempt at a stealth amnesty and a direct challenge to the jurisdiction of Congress over U.S. immigration policy.

Questions and Answers

Q. Why should I get a Mexican ID?A. Criminal Friendly Cities like Los Angeles that recognize the ID, will make life easier for you if you carry the ID. Q. What are the advantages of having a Mexican ID?A. A Mexican ID can be used in lieu of a driver's license to access a wide range of public services in the City and County of Los Angeles.

Q. Do I have to be a Mexican to get a Mexican ID?A. No, you only have to present a forged Mexican Birth Certificate to the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.

Q. What if I am an Anglo Criminal. Can I still get a Mexican ID?A. Technically, yes. But unlike our local authorities, the Mexican Government profiles. The Consulate might get suspicious if you have blond hair and blue eyes.

Q. Many Mexicans like myself were born in a small village where most of the newborn didn't even obtain birth certificates.A. Not to worry. Use a forged birth certificate which you can obtain for $25.00 on Alvarado Blvd in the Mac Arthur Park section of L.A. The Mexican Consulate does not verify the information on the birth certificate. But even if they did, they are no better at verifying birth certificates than the L.A. City Council.

Q. What if I get stopped for going through a red light. Will I be deported?A. No. Upon presenting your Mexican ID, the LAPD officer who stops you, will know that you are illegally in the country, otherwise you wouldn't need the Mexican ID in the first place. Deporting you would defeat the purpose of the ID. You will only get a ticket.

Q. Will I have to pay the ticket?A. No. You won't have to pay the ticket because it will be too much trouble to track you down. But to be on the safe side, you should have several false Mexican IDs to show on different occasions to confuse your identity. None of your IDs should have the correct address or contact information. LAPD officers will not be able to do a "make" on you to verify any information you give them. Remember, once an LAPD officer gives you a ticket, he's done and you are on your way.

Q. What if I am a fugitive and get stopped for going through a red light in a car that I just stole. Will I go to jail?A. No. When you present your Mexican ID to the LAPD officer, he will have no way of knowing that you are a serial killer or that you just stole the car you were stopped in. The worst that will happen is that the car you just stole will be impounded and the officer will tell you that you will have to walk home. But you won't have to walk home if you steal another car.

Q. If I am an American Citizen or legal resident who has a valid ID such as a driver's license, is there an advantage to also obtaining a Mexican ID?A. Yes. There is a big advantage for criminals to use a Mexican ID instead of a valid California driver's license. If you are stopped by an LAPD officer for an infraction, he won't know that you are a criminal if you show a Mexican ID. That's why it is a good idea to leave your California driver's license home.

Q. Why would the Mexican Consulate issue a Mexican ID if I already have a valid California ID?A. The Mexican government recognizes dual citizenship. If you or your mother are from Mexico, they will be happy to provide you with a supplemental Mexican ID. But just to stay on the safe side, don't tell them that you are an American Citizen or Legal Resident.

Q. What happens if the Mexican Consulate figures out that I am trying to obtain a Mexican ID with a false birth certificate?A. Nothing. But they won't let you have the ID.

Enjoy your stay here...

Kaonashi
Kaonashi

Ha. Had the same problem years ago when I'd left my US ID at the hotel and couldn't get a six pack at the liquor store; I did have both my Japanese drivers license and Japanese version of a green card (the latter with both Japanese and English notation), but no go. Had to hoof it back to the hotel room and return - about a mile, uphill, each way.

The bar was wise not to risk tangling with the ABC. This is not a racial issue; it's their livelihood.

Fred
Fred

A Matricula Consular is a perfectly valid way to identify illegals. Anyone providing one as ID should be detained until ICE can pick them up for immediate deportation.

kushes
kushes

Sound like an excholo. That works the front door

Maaresan
Maaresan

Well first Mexico does have solid immigration policies toward immigrants but that does not hinder thousands upon thousands of foreigners from China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, that are living here from coming here, working and staying years and years and many eventually acquiring residency and citizenship status. The only difference is that as long as they go through this legal process they are not turned away. As they are in the states.

Also Mexican politicians do not use this issue in order to stir up misguided and blatantly racist and easily fooled constituents to vote for them.

There are many "white" Americans that come to live out their retirement here. If, as you say, Mexico's immigration laws were so strict, then your countrymen would not have such a lax time in getting and staying here.

Your rambling about criminality being amiss because of Mexico's efforts to help its citizens is so far fetched that it seems like you have flown over the cuckoo's nest. Your drivel laden remarks, however cleverly written, do not eclipse the fact that they are fraught with racism and you a bigot. Your statements are the same ones that are found on this (http://www.theamericanresistan... racist website. You just might well be its editor.

The new consular card is high-security (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... The fact that local governments and other agencies and institutions accept it, is just an indication that not everybody in the states is willing to continue the same racist rhetoric that has prevented an amnesty which is in such dire need in your country. They also see the benefits that come from having people incorporated into the system. The financial system is not one to miss out on a buck either.

If your country were not in the business of enslaving and oppressing people abroad with condemnable and false free trade agreements, helping despots the world over then you and all other developed (exploitative) countries would not have such a problem with immigration!

FDR
FDR

"We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization." Frankiln D. Roosevelt

Malonine
Malonine

I think your tin-foil hat is on too tight.

lydiawow
lydiawow

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Audiofission
Audiofission

Being part mexican and having a friend of mine go through this experience at proof two month ago I don't find this disciminatory in any way. I've seen plenty of these ids... and they're pretty cheap looking so I don't blame them for denying people... but like my friend did... she finally got her passport and no problems there... I know proof has had their share of. Problems with their alcohol licenses with their backdoor area and understand their weariness with the ids. Btw. Fred is a moron.

fretsward
fretsward

And I think your panties are on too tight...

 
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