POLITICS

Honduras Suspends Eight Consuls In U.S. Over Identification Card Scam

LONGVIEW, TX - JULY 24:  Salvador Alanis (L), a Mexican Consulate official, asks to see proper Mexican and American identifications documents from an Mexican citizen applying for the ?Matricula Consular? card, at the Wesley-McCabe United Methodist Church July 24, 2004 in Longview, Texas. The identification card  is issued to Mexican citizens living outside of Mexico to recognize legitimate Mexicans in the U.S. Mexican Consulate officials from Dallas, Texas established what they called a ?mobile consulate? in Longview to process applicants from 450 Mexican citizens.  (Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

LONGVIEW, TX - JULY 24: Salvador Alanis (L), a Mexican Consulate official, asks to see proper Mexican and American identifications documents from an Mexican citizen applying for the ?Matricula Consular? card, at the Wesley-McCabe United Methodist Church July 24, 2004 in Longview, Texas. The identification card is issued to Mexican citizens living outside of Mexico to recognize legitimate Mexicans in the U.S. Mexican Consulate officials from Dallas, Texas established what they called a ?mobile consulate? in Longview to process applicants from 450 Mexican citizens. (Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)  (Getty Images)

Eight Honduran out of 10 consuls working in the United States were suspended while investigators from the Central American nation look into allegations that the diplomats illegally issued identity documents.

The government statement issued late Monday says the consulates affected are in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and New Orleans. The only ones to remain in their posts were the consuls in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

The Honduran Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that consular identity documents issued in the U.S. are not proof that a person is a Honduran citizen.

Local news media have alleged that the consulates were charging as much as $50 for such documents. Nearly 1 million Hondurans are believed to live in the United States.

A group representing Hondurans living in the U.S. brought the case to light after hearing reports that a number of consulates were issuing "consular IDs" — documents that bear the crest and flag of Honduras, but are not officially recognized forms of identification.

"They're selling them for $50 in a number of places and I don't know how the consulates can be doing that because that document is not an approved document," Jorge Rivera, of the Honduran Unity group in Dallas, Texas, told the BBC. “They're just trying to make money.”

Despite the fact that the “consular IDs” are not officially recognized forms of identification, many Hondurans living in the U.S. called the document “very useful” and was widely accepted by U.S. authorities.

Honduran citizen Plinio Rodríguez told the BBC that he had no problem using his consular ID with U.S. authorities and was even able to get into a California prison to visit his son.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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