Mexico’s government is actively encouraging its citizens who are eligible for citizenship in the United States to naturalize.
Bloomberg Business reports that for the first time Mexican consulates are opening their doors to host naturalization events for Mexicans who are legal permanent residents in the U.S. and meet the requirements to become U.S. citizens. Once U.S. citizens, the newly naturalized Mexicans could vote in U.S. elections.
According to Bloomberg, Mexico says it opening its consulates to host the free events held by outside community groups and that it is not technically seeking to insert itself in the presidential election.
“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.
At the top of Trump’s list of plans once in office is the construction of a border wall — he says it would be funded by Mexico — at the southern border. While Trumps comments about illegal immigration and trade policy have galvanized and excited millions of U.S. voters, they have angered Mexicans and worried GOP party leaders who fear his stridency will turn off other voting blocs.
Mexico’s official stance is that the naturalization events are not intended to erode the sovereignty of U.S. elections. Still, Mexico’s leaders have hardly been demure in their responses to Trump’s plans — scoffing at the candidate’s comments, and saying they will never pay for the wall. Earlier this month, Mexico’s current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, compared Trump’s rhetoric to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
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 in addition to the naturalization effort, Mexico is also engaging in a push to highlight Mexico’s positive contributions with a campaign in the U.S. The news outlet notes that while about 12 million Mexicans live in the U.S. — many illegal — The New Americans Campaign says there are about 2.7 million Mexican legal permanent residents who meet the requirements necessarily for naturalization.