Latino Branding and Advertising – Linking You to the Hispanic Market 



Matricula Consular

The Basics

Pros and Cons

Impact On Marketers

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A Look at The Matricula Consular: the Mexican ID Card

A little, plastic card is making a big impact on the lives of U.S. Latinos. The matricula consular, or "consular registration," is an identification card provided by the government of Mexico to its citizens residing in the U.S.

Available from any of 47 Mexican Consulates across the country, the matricula consular is increasingly being accepted by businesses, local governments and other organizations to meet proof of identity requirements for obtaining such services as bank accounts, health care and library cards.

Both praised and criticized for the access it allows the Mexican community for further acceptance and integration into American society, the matricula consular is stirring a debate over immigrant rights.

What exactly is the matricula consular? Why is it such a hot topic? And what does it mean for marketers?

The Basics

Far from new, the matricula consular became more popular when the immigration reform talks between Mexico's President Vicente Fox and Bush broke down post-September 11. Since then, more than 1.4 million cards have been issued, with estimates for another 1.5 million this year.

The card is available to all Mexican citizens, but is most often used by undocumented Mexicans as a form of identification. In order to obtain a card, applicants must present proof of Mexican citizenship, proof of U.S. residence, a photo ID and a $28 cash fee.

The card is not a visa, green card or passport. It does not give access to welfare or health programs. Possession of the card does not alter the bearer's immigration status, or promote amnesty- it simply establishes proof of identity.

Pros and Cons

More than 80 financial institutions accept the matricula consular, including Wells Fargo, which has established more than 80,000 new bank accounts in the last two years to customers presenting the card along with other documents such as a tax ID number.

Banks have the approval of the Department of Treasury, which views the cards as a way of stimulating the economy. Banks get to diversify their portfolios and increase their profits, while immigrants establish credit for the purchase of larger ticket items, and work toward qualifying for home ownership.

Banks also get to tap into the flow of more than $10 billion sent home annually by citizens of Mexico, who at the same time are protected from price gouging for services such as wire transfers.

The buck doesn't stop there. The matricula consular also affords access to other goods and services, such as driver licenses and in-state tuition rates at public universities, and everyday occurrences such as boarding planes and entering public buildings where a photo ID is required.

Because more than 900 police departments and municipalities accept the card as proof of identity, it is cited as a way to increase community cooperation with local law enforcement agencies -- by removing the fear of deportation due to lack of ID.

Opponents perceive this as a fast track to the American dream and a form of "backdoor amnesty," which rewards illegal aliens with rights and services reserved for documented immigrants and U.S. citizens, and encourages illegal immigration.

Others, most notably the FBI, have expressed concerns regarding the card's vulnerability to fraud and forgery, with supporters responding that such consequences are not unique to the matricula consular: passports, driver's licenses and other ID cards issued by the U.S government are often used to falsify identity.

Regardless of the point of view, the matricula consular is certain to have a lasting influence on marketing to Latinos.

Impact On Marketers

The matricula consular reflects the economic and social significance of 60 percent of the US Hispanic population - the 20 million Mexican immigrants - who live in the United States and pay taxes.

Moreover, it acknowledges the market potential of this historically significant group and further strengthens measures to quantify its size and spending power. The matricula consular also creates new marketing opportunities for service companies - banks, financial services, insurance, education, real estate - and retail outlets from video rental to warehouse clubs.

By obtaining access and fair treatment to these goods and services, the Mexican immigrant population will continue to contribute to the economic well being of the United States.



For more information on the Latino Market, contact:

Cristina Benitez e-mail:

Lazos Latinos

call 312-280-1224 fax 312-280-8424