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Immigration

Mexico opens immigrant "Defense Centers" at consulates in the US

The Mexican government is starting a program to provide immigrants with legal help.
6 Mar 2017 – 11:35 AM EST

Mexico is setting up so-called "Defense Centers" at its 50 consulates in the United States to offer legal assistance to Mexican immigrants in the wake of new regulations by the Trump administration.

The program is drawing on support from a network of lawyers and immigration advocacy groups, according to a statement by the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

"Our people need us more than ever ... in this current situation which has generated so much fear among people," Mexico's Consul General in Miami, Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia, told Univision during a Town Hall on Sunday night.

The centers "are specifically designed to provide consular assistance as well as legal representation to all Mexican migrants who require support in America," it stated.

Mexico's Foreign Ministry says it has budgeted $54 million for the immigrant services and 320 temporary workers would be hired.

Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has announced changes to immigration policy that greatly increase the risk of deportation for undocumented immigrants, expanding existing guideliness for enforcement priorities to include not just those who face criminal charges.

The Mexican consulate in New York also on Saturday issued the first birth certificate to a Mexican citizen not registered at the time of birth in Mexico. As of Feb 17 of this year, Mexicans residing abroad can request certified copies of their birth certificates at embassies and consulates if they were not registered in Mexico.

With the birth certificate, Mexicans abroad will now be more easily able to process basic documents such as passports and consular registrations.

More than 11 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States, of whom about 50 percent are undocumented. Many of them are workers who send remittances to their families in Mexico, one of the main sources of foreign exchange.

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