The Mexican consulate in Sacramento will spend about a quarter-million dollars to help its nationals in the area fight deportations, part of a $50 million effort across the United States by the Mexican government as fears of immigration crackdowns grow.
Rodrigo Baez, consul for protection and legal affairs in Sacramento, said this week that his consul has received about $250,000 to help Mexican nationals who are currently detained or fear detention, and to help educate immigrants in the area about their rights.
Baez said the increased funding is new this year, based on President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Ten consulates in California and 50 nationwide have split $50 million in funding, he said.
“The consulates are getting ready and strengthening our partner networks to be ready, to defend the rights of Mexican nationals,” Baez said.
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Baez said the money is a major increase; the Sacramento consulate received about $50,000 last year, he said. Baez said Mexican consulates have provided Mexican nationals with legal aid and education outreach “for many, many years.”
Baez said he has not seen increased immigration actions in Sacramento but the consulate is receiving more requests for help. Baez said Mexican nationals are showing great interest in becoming citizens. Many have been here for years without attempting to gain citizenship but now are rushing to try and need legal guidance, he said.
“There is a lot of anxiety in the community. A lot of people want to know if they are at greater risk now,” Baez said.
Baez said a recent meeting to discuss immigration drew about 500 people.
“We’ve never had one like that before,” he said.
Baez said consular employees also regularly visit those who have been detained by immigration authorities at two local jails that contract with the federal government for space, in Yolo County and and the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Sacramento County. Because consular employees have diplomatic status, they are able to enter ICE detention centers, said Baez, often becoming the only point of contact between detainees and their families.
Baez said there are up to 60 Mexican nationals in each of those facilities at any given time.