Local law enforcement officials are expected to announce today a countywide policy of accepting Mexican consular ID cards as a valid form of identification.
Such a move would could keep some illegal immigrants from landing in jail, where they most likely would be flagged by federal immigration officials. Police officers in California have the authority to arrest drivers who cannot provide valid identification.
The announcement is to be made at a meeting in Santa Rosa of the North Bay Organizing Project, a group that has lobbied for the policy change since the beginning of the year.
Omar Gallardo, president of the group's leadership council, said that representatives from the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs' Association, the Sheriff's Office and the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco are expected to attend.
However, he would not give details about the policy change.
In early September, Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver said that officers in his department would begin honoring the consular ID card, known in Spanish as matricula consular. Weaver said then that the policy was being considered for adoption by the local chiefs' association.
Santa Rosa Chief Tom Schwedhelm said Friday that the association had voted at its last meeting to "add language to one of our policies so that it covers Mexican consular cards."
The policy is currently being circulated for signatures from association members.
The policy change, which is an addition to the association's protocol's for dealing with illegal immigrants, says:
<BL@199,12,11,10>Law enforcement personnel should accept matricular identification (ID) cards issued by the Mexican Consulate as valid ID unless they have probable cause to believe that the ID has been tampered with and/or the person presenting the ID is not in fact the person listed on the ID.