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Police in Sonoma County California turned over far fewer illegal aliens to ICE last year after law enforcement agencies decided to accept Mexican Matricula Consular cards as valid identification, The Press Democrat reports. Previously, illegal aliens without valid ID were taken to jail and run through federal databases under the Secure Communities program.

Secure Communities requires officers to send ICE the fingerprints of all people booked into jail. ICE then asks the law enforcement agency to “hold” those flagged for immigration violations. The program is credited with helping officers identify unlawful foreign nationals, including those wanted for minor or major crimes.

Secure Communities became operational in Sonoma County in March 2010. Over the next year, police turned over illegal aliens to ICE at an average rate of 78 per month. Between August of 2011 and 2012, however, the number turned over to ICE dropped to an average of 44 people per month, a decline of 47 percent.

At the urging of illegal-alien advocates, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and the Santa Rosa Police Department began accepting Matricula card as valid ID on Oct. 23, 2011. As a result, officers took fewer illegal aliens to jail to be run through Secure Communities.

Steve Giraud, director of the NorCal Chapter of the Border Patrol Auxiliary and an immigration law enforcement advocate, said "It's alarming. That means the individuals are still in this county, using or abusing public aid and displacing American workers. If this is a trend, this may only be the beginning then for counties to ultimately defy federal law and snub their noses at it, due to special interest group pressure."

For years, the Mexican government has campaigned to get local government to accept Matricula Consular cards as valid ID. The rationale, Mexican officials suggest, is that the cards enable police to be certain that the holder is who he/she claims to be.

However, a Matricula card cannot “prove” someone’s identity. The ID itself may be secure, but the feeder documents required to obtain one are not vetted for authenticity. The FBI, in testimony before a House Subcommittee on Immigration, stated that the Matricula card is not a reliable form of identification and poses “major criminal threats and potential terrorist threats.”

Recognizing a Matricula card for official purposes can be considered a form of amnesty because it decreases the likelihood that illegal aliens will be deported when committing less serious offenses.

For more information, read The Press Democrat.

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