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Without IDs from home, Mexicans struggle in U.S.

NEW YORK — She was born in Mexico and lives in the United States, but Laura Rocio Ordonez does not officially exist in any country.

She can't open a bank account or get married. She is invisible for both governments. Ordonez, 40, not only lives illegally in the United States but also lacks Mexican identification documents.

It's unclear how many immigrants living illegally in the United States fall into that category, but it's estimated that one in seven Mexicans lacks proof of birth. The numbers are high enough that Mexican officials recently traveled to New York to try help dozens of immigrants get IDs.

Mexican immigrants living illegally in the United States are in a far worse situation if they lack Mexican credentials.

For example, some banks accept consular identification cards and passports to open accounts. Immigrants with IDs from home also can obtain taxpayer identification numbers that allow them to pay taxes in the United States and obtain credit and mortgages. New York City public schools accept consular ID cards and similar documentation to enter buildings for meetings with teachers, although people who have no identification at all can be escorted inside.

Ordonez, who was born in Oaxaca and came to the United States illegally years ago, is not included in Mexico's birth registry. She thinks her parents did not register her, and she did not solve the problem while she lived in her home country.

She said she can study English but has no hope of obtaining a GED diploma because of her lack of ID.

"I feel helplessness, frustration," said Ordonez, who works at a small grocery store in Brooklyn. "This has affected me greatly."

Officials at Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography and the National Registry of Population and Personal Identification said they have no data on how many Mexicans are not included in the registry, but lack of identity is a common problem in poor and remote towns of states like Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, Veracruz and Hidalgo, where people have sometimes to walk long distances to find a civil registry office.

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