New effort to help eligible Mexicans become U.S. citizens

Leading Mexican institutions joining forces

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A new effort to help eligible Mexican nationals in the United States become American citizens is being spearheaded by three leading Mexican institutions: the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Mexican National Commission on Human Rights and the Carlos Slim Foundation.

The foundation to help the most vulnerable was created in 1986 by one of the world’s wealthiest men, Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate.

The Migrant Support Program in the United States offers confidential help online through its website, Acceso Latino, which includes free legal aid from pro-bono lawyers and information on loans to pay for the citizenship process. The site also has a course that prepares them to pass the U.S. citizenship process. UNAM campuses, including the one in Hemisfair Plaza, also offer free in-person training.

An estimated 3.4 million Mexican citizens living and working in the U.S. are said to be eligible.

“They’ve been through a lot of barriers and it hasn’t been easy,” said Roberto Tapia-Conyer, with the Carlos Slim Foundation. “They’re not alone.”

At one time, Mexicans who left to come to the U.S. were looked down on, but attitudes have changed in light of the Trump administration.

“That’s not the case anymore,” said Jorge Santibanez, executive director of Juntos Podemos, or Together We Can, a nationwide network that supports the Mexican community in the U.S.

Santibanez said often, Mexican nationals are hesitant to become a U.S. citizen because of fears it could hurt their homeland. He said it was vital that “important voices in Mexico” reassure them it would be best to protect their rights and dignity by becoming American citizens.

Miguel Alvarado Saldana said he is applying to become a U.S. citizen to vote in the face of rhetoric targeting immigrants, especially Mexicans.

He said he urges others to do the same, “to benefit them and to benefit the Mexican community.”

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