By Sandra Navarro
When it comes to the Mexican population, Chicago ranks fifth on the planet, after Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Los Angeles. “It is a great pleasure and honor to be the youngest consul general in the history of the Mexican consulate in Chicago, which is the second largest consulate we have in the world,” says Eduardo Arnal.
With little more than a year at the helm, Arnal has achieved significant progress. Gradually he has been able to address the challenges presented and expand the consulate’s presence in the 128 counties in the corresponding districts.
“The consulate’s relationship with the Mexican community has been strengthened, as well as with the various government institutions, migrant organizations, and churches. We have also joined efforts with consuls from Latin America to develop projects and work for the benefit of all our people regardless of their origins. And the challenge remains to offer the best service, which we must provide as public servants.
In matters of immigration, Arnal says, “The consulate works actively for the well-being of Mexicans in Chicago. For example, unaccompanied underage immigrants are a very delicate issue. The first thing the consulate seeks, in collaboration with Mexican authorities and the department of Children and Families, is family reunification. There are collaboration agreements with both the government of Mexico and the United States. There are regional detention centers where children, who are detained for whatever reasons in various points throughout the United States, are received and concentrated here in Chicago.“
Arnal adds that the consulate and the church are natural allies. “The vast majority of Mexicans are Catholics, and as a consequence the first place they seek upon arriving here is the church.” The Archdiocese of Chicago and the consulate work with a network of volunteers and bring various training and prevention programs to inform and advise this population. “Among these services, we provide information and training to the community about their rights, what to do in case they are detained, how to demand their labor rights regardless of their immigration status, and how to adapt better to their communities. These services and campaigns are offered in churches, civic associations, sports and community centers, schools, and even in people’s homes.”
When it comes to education the consulate has 21 community centers for literacy; primary, secondary, and high school; and English, which issue official certificates from the Secretariat of Public Education; several online career options; and scholarships through the Bi-national Migrant Education program from National Institute for Adult Education. The consulate also works with institutions such as the Universidad Autónoma de México in Chicago, to provide training, educational alternatives, and bi-national certificates. For additional information on the diversity of support programs available for the Mexican com- munity, visit the consulate’s website, www.consulmexchicago.com.
In which ways could you become involved in help and support of immigrants of your own country of origin?