Senate Bill 4, known as the “show me your papers” law to its opponents, currently faces a challenge in a San Antonio federal court. If the law takes effect, police in Texas will be able to ask people they stop about their immigration status.
Unauthorized immigrants from Mexico living here have found a new ally to fight deportation: the Mexican government. The Mexican Consulate has announced plans to hold emergency preparedness clinics, know-your-rights sessions and other support events to help eligible Mexican nationals apply for U.S. citizenship.
Carlos González Gutiérrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Austin, says the thousands of dollars contributed to the program by the Mexican government are not directly in response to SB 4.
“You should understand it more as a reaction to the new context throughout the nation,” González Gutiérrez says. “With the arrival of a new administration in Washington, D.C., they wanted to strengthen immigration-control policies both at the border and the interior. Now, because here in Texas, SB 4 has been approved, it has a particular meaning.”
He says a key aspect of the effort is access to immigration attorney resources for Mexican citizens living in the U.S.
“It sounds counterintuitive, I know,” he says. “But, if you think about it – first, you cannot lose Mexican nationality. Secondly, if we want to remain in touch with the people of Mexican origin who are going to stay here for good, we must help them to abandon the margins of society and become mainstream. To help someone acquire American citizenship when they have the right [to] is the ultimate protection service that we could provide them.”
González Gutiérrez says the average Mexican national has been living in the U.S. for 10 years, leading to their involvement in bi-national families. He says the diaspora movement has ended, as there is now a net outflow of immigration from the U.S. back to Mexico.
“You cannot explain Texas prosperity without the contribution of these people,” González Gutiérrez says of the past influx of Mexican immigrants. “It’s kind of inconsistent that now that that flow has ended, some people are getting a much tougher stance that, by the way, is against the interests of both countries in my opinion.”
Written by Rachel Rascoe.