People line up for hours for chance to get Mexican ID card

More than a thousand immigrants lined up for a chance to get an identification card from the Mexican Consulate. Only about 250 IDs were going to be handed out.

By CHRISTINA E. SANCHEZ and MICHAEL A. By dawn on Saturday, the crowd had swelled, and tempers flared.

More than a thousand immigrants lined up for a chance to get an identification card from the Mexican Consulate. Only about 250 IDs were going to be handed out.

A Booker High School student in Sarasota, Ruiz has lived in the United States for most of her life. But because she and her parents are illegal immigrants, Ruiz is not eligible for a Florida ID or driver’s license.

No identification for Ruiz and so many others means not being able to do things most of us take for granted: cash a check, rent an apartment, prove who you are. government IDs or driver’s licenses.

In Florida, a Mexican voter card used to be all a person needed to get a driver’s license. State laws changed in 2002, however, after officials learned the 9/11 terrorists had Florida IDs.

And now, with the looming debate in Congress and across the country over immigration policy reform, Fake ID,it has become even harder for illegal immigrants to get identification.

Red Cross rush hour

On Saturday, the Manatee County chapter of the American Red Cross hosted a mobile Mexican Consulate program to issue official Mexican “matricula consular” IDs.

The matricula consular is not a fake driver’s license, although it has similar features. The person’s photo, name, date of birth and address appear on the ID.

The mobile consulate program only comes to the Manatee County area once every six to nine months.

And on Saturday, there was a hitch: time and staff limitations meant it was on a first come, first served basis. That meant only 250 people could get the ID.

Latecomers who tried to break into the line were not welcome.

Makeshift signs printed in Spanish pointing people to bathrooms and refreshments were posted inside the Red Cross building in the 2900 block of 59th Street West.

When the mobile unit comes to town, word spreads quickly, said Darlene Monroe, health services director for the Red Cross in Manatee. The doors opened at 10.

“Imagine you are in a country that was not your own, and you had no identification to prove who you are,” said Monroe. Scannable Fake ID,”If you want to do anything in our society, you have to prove who you are.”

She said more than 100 people raised their hands when she asked in Spanish how many in the crowd had spent the night.

“I sent quite a few home,” Monroe said Saturday as she flipped through government papers a woman brought in a folder.

ID of last resort

By noon, more than a hundred people were waiting in line with no guarantee they’d be let inside to get the ID. Some applicants carried umbrellas to block the midday sun. Others used government papers to shield their faces.

Red Cross officials distributed water and other refreshments.

She said she read about the mobile Mexican Consulate in a Spanish language magazine last month.

Monroe said the Red Cross has sponsored the consulate’s visit for three years. Not every Mexican who attends the program is an illegal immigrant, she said.

“A lot of the folks are here legally with a migrant worker’s visa,” she said. “The Red Cross is a neutral organization, and we are here to help everybody.”

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