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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Hundreds show for Consulate visit 06/27/04 - Grand Island Independent: News

Hundreds show for Consulate visit 06/27/04 - Grand Island Independent: News

Luis Fernando Alva, deputy consul of Mexico, expected around 200 Mexican nationals to show up at Walnut Middle School on Saturday.
As of 4 p.m., the numbers were just a little bit higher.

"We knew there were a substantial number of Mexican Nationals in this area. That's why we came here," Alva said. "We didn't expect more than 200 but there have been more than 300 so far."

The primary reason for the Consulate visit was to procure information from the nationals for matricula consular cards, which are issued by the Mexican government and serve as identification.

The cards include a person's name, current address, their picture and an expiration date. Alva said the cards serve as identification for people who want to do everything from getting a passport to opening a checking account.

What the card is not, he said, is a way to gauge the legality of how many of the nationals came to the United States.

"We don't ask about immigration status," Alva said. "That's not our job."

The Consulate was at Walnut Middle School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and was equipped to not only help with questions, but provide copies of documents and take identification pictures. Alva said the matricula consular cards will be given to St. Mary's Cathedral for distribution.

In speaking with many of the people who showed up at the Consulate visit, Alva said the cards are important to people for a variety of reasons.

"It's useful if you want to travel to Mexico," he said. "It's very important for some people to have."

A Mexican national, who didn't wish to give her name, said for her, the card would mean a form of identification that people recognize and she can use. She said she heard about the Consulate visit from a friend, and was grateful they came to answer questions and help her with her situation.

The woman brought her son with her, as did many of the Mexican nationals who attended the Consulate's visit. The group is based out of Omaha, and has come to Grand Island once a year for the past three years, Alva said. The Consulate makes an effort to cover as much of the state as possible.

Not everyone was pleased at the Consulate's visit, as a lone protester stood outside Walnut with a sign decrying the concept of the matricula consular cards. Jess Valdez calls himself an "immigration reform activist."

"The Mexican government is subverting United States immigration law by issuing these cards," Valdez said. "The only people who need these cards are Mexican nationals who are here illegally."

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