Eric Martin and Nacha Cattan, Bloomberg, March 20, 2016
Mexico is mounting an unprecedented effort to turn its permanent residents in the U.S. into citizens, a status that would enable them to vote–presumably against Donald Trump.
Officially, Mexico says it respects U.S. sovereignty and has no strategy to influence the result of the presidential race. Yet Mexican diplomats are mobilizing for the first time to assist immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship, 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 doesn’t want to wait to see how it all turns out. The 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.
“We’re very worried,” Diaz, 47, an evangelical pastor, said. “If he wins there will be a lot of damage against a lot of people here, and to us as Hispanics, as Mexicans.”
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.”