Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee file, 2013

Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Mexican Consul General in Sacramento talks which several former migrant workers (Braceros) inside a conference room in Sacramento, Calif. on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. The former migrant farmworkers from Mexcio staged a protest after the meeting and demanded that Mexico's new government return funds withheld from wages of thousands of Mexican laborers who were guest workers and farms in the U.S.

Off Topic: Carlos González Gutiérrez

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 - 12:00 am

Carlos González Gutiérrez, the consul general of Mexico in Sacramento, discussed the “Steps to College” program, a partnership with the California Student Aid Commission, with The Bee’s editorial board last week. He went off topic.

Pia Lopez: What do you think of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants that mark them as different?

González Gutiérrez: I know that the effort to create a mark on those new driver’s licenses shows genuine concern on the part of different actors to comply with federal law. They are concerned with making this as little noticed as possible.

Lopez: If you are undocumented, why would you come forward if you’re going to have a driver’s license that would be marked?

González Gutiérrez: My very personal opinion is that people who have established roots in this country … they don’t fool themselves. They know they need a driver’s license. I don’t think it’s a big concern. These people have for all practical purposes integrated into society. They are law-abiding. They want to pay insurance for their car. To get a competitive rate, you need a driver’s license.

Foon Rhee: Tell us about the new consulate.

González Gutiérrez: It was a great move to Natomas for two reasons. Free parking. Also the size of the building. We went from 9,000 square feet to 33,000 and the building is owned by the Mexican government. We used to rent.

Lopez: You are wearing a pin with the California and Mexican flags.

González Gutiérrez: This is a very special pin, ordered by Douglas Moore, who was the last director of the office of California in Mexico City, the one that Gov. Gray Davis closed in the middle of a campaign in 2003. To this day, and I say this with shame, California does not have an office of representation in Mexico. California has an office in China, but not in Mexico.

Rhee: Have you talked to Governor Brown about re-establishing that office?

González Gutiérrez: During the State of the State address, he was very clear. He said, “We will go to Mexico next.” I am very optimistic that the key leaders in this state recognize that California is losing a great deal by not having an office.

Rhee: Have you met University of California President Janet Napolitano?

González Gutiérrez: I was very impressed by her commitment to develop strong ties to Mexico. UC has the Casa de California, which is the only office of representation that California has in Mexico. Napolitano knows Mexico very well, both as former homeland security chief and as former governor of Arizona. She has a lot of friends and in her current role she wants to develop a special relationship with Mexico.

The questions and answers are edited and condensed for space and clarity.

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