Mexican nationals in the U.S. can now get copies of their birth certificates at their local consulate, a move that could make it easier for immigrants to benefit from President Obama’s new immigration policies.
Previously, Mexican immigrants had to travel to their native country to get copies of their birth certificates, said Julian Escutia-Rodriguez, head of consular coordination and Hispanic affairs for the Embassy of Mexico. And only a few government offices offered online services.
"This is a huge deal," Escutia-Rodriguez said. "It has a huge potential because a birth certificate is the basis for a number of paperwork people need."
The new initiative, which has been in the works for years, will make it easier for Mexican immigrants to request a passport or consular ID, she said.
Those documents can be used to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or a California driver's license.
Undocumented immigrants from Mexico make up about two-thirds of people eligible for deportation relief under President Obama's executive action, a Pew Research Center analysis found.
The new programs could affect about 4 million people living in the U.S. without proper documentation. The largest group, at least 3.5 million according to the analysis, consists of undocumented parents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and have children who were born here or are legal permanent residents.
Nora A. Preciado, staff attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, said Mexican nationals had been asking the consulate for the consulate service for years.
"The ability to go back to Mexico has been a huge barrier for applying for their [consular IDs] or passports," Preciado said. "You had to go back to the region you were born in, it could be a state or municipality."
Some people would get family members or pay attorneys to get copies of their birth certificates, Preciado said.
Tom Wong, a professor of political science at UC San Diego who conducted one of the first nationwide surveys on undocumented youths, said the new initiative appears to be a concerted effort by the Mexican government to do right by its nationals in the U.S.
"The Mexican government seems to see the benefit of having their nationals have legal status," Wong said. "We know that with legal status comes employment opportunities, wage increases and thereby more remittances back to Mexico."
An analysis conducted by the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA estimates that, nationwide, undocumented immigrants would see a $7.1-billion boost to their income.