'Don't panic' and other advice from the Mexican consul

File: Bandera de México. The flag of Mexico outside the consulate in Austin.
File: Bandera de México. The flag of Mexico outside the consulate in Austin.
Photo by Mark C. Stevens via Flickr Creative Commons

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The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles is spending more time advising its citizens who are fearful of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Typically, consulates provide a host of legal services like passports, birth certificates or marriages. But at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, Consul Carlos Garcia De Alba said his staff’s primary role has become to provide legal advice to Mexican citizens who have become more fearful since the election.

The consulate across from MacArthur Park is the largest of Mexico’s 54 consulates and embassies throughout the US. Staff there work to facilitate the community’s needs and provide sound counsel.

Trump’s tweets and media coverage of recent, very public raids have provoked a deep sense of paranoia in the Mexican community.

Consul Garcia De Alba spoke with KPCC’s Alex Cohen on about his role and what discussions he’s having with Mexicans in Los Angeles.

I attended several meetings – community meetings – several mothers came to me asking, “Consul, what do you think: Should I stop sending my children to school?” Of course my answer was “Not at all. Keep sending your children to school.”

Do you give practical advice to people who are afraid of being deported?

Yes. You need to say “Don’t panic.” And share the information that they could need in case they are arrested and maybe deported. Or in case they decide by themselves to return to Mexico. What do you have to do with your savings, properties and, even more important, your family. Maybe you have children who are Americans but you don’t want them to return to Mexico – you want them to stay in the U.S.

If I’m a mother saying that I’m worried I might be sent back but my children can stay here. What would you tell me?

Make a plan. In case your children remain here, they need to be protected, followed, educated and raised. It’s important to have a plan. But there are a lot of things that need to be considered.

There are people who are deeply disturbed and troubled by the things the president has said about immigrants. But there are also people who completely and utterly support him. Who feel there’s a legal process and a system here and for people who don’t abide by those rules, perhaps they don’t deserve to be here. What would you say to a supporter or Pres. Trump himself, what would you say?

Everybody knows… everybody here is a migrant, originally. We need to keep that in mind. Second, don’t target Mexicans. Because, apparently now all the undocumented and “bad hombres” are Mexicans. That’s not fair. Mexicans have made a great contribution to this country.