Fearful Immigrants Flood Mexican Consulates in U.S.
5 hrs ago
LOS ANGELES — First came the anxious calls in the days after the election of President Trump. Now, people begin lining up before 8 a.m. and crowd the waiting rooms inside the Mexican Consulate here.
Mexican citizens come to renew passports that have been unused for more than a decade. They desperately ask lawyers if they can do anything to help them stay in the United States. They register their children for Mexican citizenship, just in case they are sent back and decide to move their whole family with them.
When the consulate began to get reports of dozens of Mexicans being arrested by immigration officials last week, they immediately dispatched lawyers to the federal detention center downtown. Officers closely monitored social media, simultaneously trying to get information and quash unfounded rumors. In one case, they helped a man whom immigration officials had quickly sent to the border for deportation return to Los Angeles for a hearing in immigration court.
These are demanding times for the 50 Mexican consulates scattered throughout the United States. With Mr. Trump’s promise to crack down on immigrants living in the United States illegally and an executive order that vastly expands who is considered a priority for deportation, Mexicans living here illegally are increasingly on edge.
And consulates are moving quickly to help. As official representatives of the Mexican government in the United States, the consulates can provide legal guidance and resources for people and families dealing with immigration issues. Mexicans make up about half of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The relationship between Mexico and the United States is at its lowest point in years. After a 35-year-old mother of two American citizens was deported in Arizona last week, the Mexican government warned their citizens living in the United States of a “new reality.” It urged “the entire Mexican community” to “take precautions” and be in touch with the nearest consulate.
Mexican officials say they are eager to keep families already living in the United States together. There are economic concerns too: Mexicans living abroad send more than $25 billion back home, with most of the money coming from the United States, according to Mexico’s central bank.
Perhaps nobody is as busy as Carlos García de Alba, the consul general in Los Angeles, one of the largest offices in the country. He has begun to train nearly every employee in basic legal services and expects to bring in many more immigration lawyers. Still, in recent months, Mr. García has felt torn between his efforts to increase services to worried constituents and trying to calm their nerves...................