The Mexican Consulate in Oxnard serves roughly half a million Mexican nationals living in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Regardless of immigration status, they have the right to free legal advice from the consulate under international law.
In the past few months, the office has seen a huge spike in people trying to get dual-citizenship passports. Before 2017, you could call and make an appointment to come in the next day. Now, over 1,500 people are requesting appointments and the consulate is backed up with appointments until May.
Ninety percent of those appointments are for kids who were born in the United States to parents who are undocumented, according to Jonathan Alvarez, the consul for community affairs at the consulate in Oxnard.
He explained to KCRW’s Jonathan Bastian why that is.
Alvarez thinks families are planning for the future, taking precautions and preparing for the worst.
“People have asked us if they’re forced to immigrate, what will happen to their kids,” he said. “If they decide to take their kids with them to Mexico, they want to make sure their kids have access to all the services.”
Many people are also asking for powers of attorney. Alvarez said if the parents decide to leave their kids in the USA, they want to make sure they have a trusted, legal guardian in place.
So far, however, the consulate has not seen an uptick in deportations by Immigration and Custom Enforcement.
“Fortunately, most of the rumors are rumors indeed, and ICE is just following their standard protocols like many years before,” said Alvarez.
According to conversations between the consulate and ICE, the federal immigration agency is continuing to focus on three priorities: deporting people who already have a deportation warrant, people who were already deported and returned to the U.S., and people with a criminal background.
Local social justice organization CAUSE has developed a text service that sends out an alert in Spanish whenever confirmed ICE activity takes place within Santa Barbara or Ventura County. Organizers at the group gather tips through social media or word of mouth, then confirm those rumors by investigating themselves or reaching out to local police officials and the consulate.
To sign up for the service, text ‘Alerta’ to 24587.