Mexican diplomats are mobilizing for the first time to assist immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship by hosting free workshops on naturalization.
“This is a historic moment where the Mexican consulate will open its doors to carry out these types of events in favor of the Mexican community,” Adrian Sosa, a spokesman for the consulate in Chicago, said before an event on March 19. In Dallas, about 250 permanent residents attended the consulate’s first “citizenship clinic” in February and another 150 in its second in March. In Las Vegas, the turnout topped 500.
Underscoring the fine line that separates participation from interfering in another country’s election, Sosa noted that the consulate only hosts the event but it’s community organizations who offer the advice.
Joel Diaz, a Mexican-American, who has been a permanent resident of the U.S. for six years, arrived at the Mexican consulate in Chicago on Saturday with his wife and four adult sons to register all of them as U.S. citizens in order to vote against Trump.
Laura Espinosa, deputy consul in Mexico’s consulate in Las Vegas, said the main goal of the program is citizenship, and while that includes the right to vote, the government doesn’t press people to do so. “Those who use this to vote, that’s up to each individual,” said Espinosa, who confirmed that most consulates have begun citizenship campaigns. “We don’t have any opinion on that, because that would be totally interfering in internal affairs of the country.”
Bloomberg reports that about 12 million Mexicans live in the U.S. and almost half lack legal status, according to a November study by the Pew Research Center. About 2.7 million legal Mexican permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible to apply to become citizens, according to The New Americans Campaign, a nonpartisan group that helps people access naturalization services.
“Boosting turnout among immigrant voters could help tip the scale in the election,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.