Mex­i­can con­sulates add U.S. mi­grant help

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Adri­ana Gomez Li­con

All 50 of the con­sulates opened le­gal as­sis­tance cen­ters to help Mex­i­cans in fear of de­por­ta­tion by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Not only is the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment not build­ing a wall, it is spend­ing $50 mil­lion to beef up its le­gal aid to mi­grants who fear de­por­ta­tion, a re­sponse to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s crack­down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

All 50 Mex­i­can con­sulates in the U.S. on Fri­day launched le­gal as­sis­tance cen­ters to form part­ner­ships with non­profit groups and tap lawyers to pro­vide le­gal as­sis­tance to those fear­ing Trump’s poli­cies.

The diplo­matic ef­fort comes as the two coun­tries are in a rift over Trump’s plans for a border wall and the United States eyes ef­forts to in­ten­sify im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

Mi­ami’s Mex­i­can con­sul gen­eral, Jose An­to­nio Za­bal­goitia, said Fri­day that these cen­ters would be­come “au­then­tic ad­vo­cates of the rights of Mex­i­can mi­grants.”

“What changes to­day is that we are pri­or­i­tiz­ing le­gal mat­ters over ev­ery­thing. Pre­vi­ously, we didn’t have the need to seek so much le­gal sup­port for our peo­ple,” he said. “But now, we need to pro­tect them against an even­tual de­por­ta­tion.”

Mex­i­can con­sulates are form­ing part­ner­ships with law schools, im­mi­gra­tion clin­ics and non­profit groups that lit­i­gate on be­half of im­mi­grants. The cen­ters are staffed with Mex­i­can lawyers who can re­fer cases to or­ga­ni­za­tions or clin­ics. They are also reach­ing out to pri­vate at­tor­ney firms in­ter­ested in tak­ing on pro bono work.

Later this month, the Mi­ami con­sulate will hold an “im­mi­gra­tion di­ag­no­sis” to re­view in­di­vid­ual cases with other groups for the pos­si­bil­ity of le­gal­iz­ing that per­son’s sta­tus.

Con­sulates from Mex­ico and other Cen­tral Amer­i­can na­tions have been jug­gling nu­mer­ous in­quiries in re­cent months from mi­grants con­cerned about their fate and that of their U.S.-born chil­dren.

Za­bal­goitia said the in­crease in re­quests for doc­u­ments and help is “enor­mous,” as he pointed to a wait­ing room with dozens of peo­ple car­ry­ing fold­ers of doc­u­ments in need of birth cer­tifi­cates, Mex­i­can pass­ports and other doc­u­men­ta­tion. “I used to sign two birth cer­tifi­cates a week. Only yes­ter­day, I signed 15.”

In the Philadel­phia con­sulate, which also cov­ers Delaware and south­ern New Jer­sey, ap­point­ments at the con­sulate have dou­bled to 400 daily. “They are con­cerned about their sit­u­a­tion,” said Ali­cia Ker­ber-Palma, Mex­ico’s con­sul gen­eral for the re­gion, where about 200,000 Mex­i­can im­mi­grants live.

Mex­i­can diplo­mats in Bos­ton have been meet­ing with fam­i­lies to ex­plain to them the chal­lenges of claim­ing U.S.-born chil­dren, with­out dual na­tion­al­ity, after de­por­ta­tion.

Div­ina Ciri­aco, a 45-yearold house­keeper who lives in the Mi­ami area, said she is gath­er­ing all the doc­u­ments she would need for her U.S.born boy to ac­com­pany her if she is de­ported.

“We live in fear of go­ing back to Mex­ico, to the vi­o­lence, the poverty we suf­fered,” said Ciri­aco, who mi­grated along with her hus­band and two prior chil­dren 20 years ago. “Now it’s just a mat­ter of wait­ing for that day to come.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.