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Border & Immigration

Mexican Citizenship Applications Rise In San Diego Amid Trump Fears

Local leaders discuss dual citizenship at the Mexican consulate in San Diego, March 15, 2017.
Jean Guerrero
Local leaders discuss dual citizenship at the Mexican consulate in San Diego, March 15, 2017.

Applications for Mexican citizenship are on the rise in San Diego, consular officials said Wednesday.

The trend is part of a rise in patriotism among Mexicans in response to President Trump’s negative remarks about immigrants, as well as fears regarding new immigration orders that facilitate deportations.

Many immigrants who lack legal status in the U.S. are getting Mexican citizenship for their U.S.-citizen children so they can be prepared in case the family is forced to move back to Mexico. They want to have immediate access to Mexican services, such as health care and education if that happens.

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Mexico's Consul General in San Diego, Marcela Celorio, said the consulate is hosting workshops to advocate for dual citizenship and is helping people obtain their Mexican birth certificates for free.

"What is going to happen when a parent goes back to Mexico but their kids are U.S. citizens? The kids should be Mexicans as well," Celorio said.

Mexican Citizenship Applications Rise In San Diego Amid Trump Fears
Mexican Citizenship Applications Rise In San Diego Amid Trump Fears
Many immigrants who lack legal status in the U.S. are getting citizenship for their children so they can be prepared to move the family in case they're deported.

The Mexican consulate in San Diego has seen an uptick in applications for Mexican citizenship, she said, from about 100 a month last year to about 150 a month this year.

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Among those immigrants seeking Mexican citizenship for U.S.-citizen children is Maria del Pilar Ruiz, who has been in San Diego for about a decade. She applied Wednesday for her three U.S.-citizen children and expects to receive their paperwork early next week.

“Because of everything that’s happening. The deportations. We’re getting ready because we don’t know if my husband or I will be deported," Ruiz said.

She said she wants to be able to enroll her children in Mexican schools if the family is forced to return to Mexico. Ruiz also added that she has arranged for a neighbor to take care of her children temporarily if she and her husband are deported.

Consular officials were discussing dual citizenship at an event Wednesday celebrating the 10-year anniversary of a constitutional reform in Mexico first allowing Mexicans to have dual citizenship. Prior to 1998, when the law went into effect, Mexican citizens who became U.S. citizens lost their Mexican citizenship.

Celorio said many Mexicans still do not realize theycan become U.S. citizens without losing their Mexican citizenship, and that the consulate is trying to spread the word.

The consulate now encourages immigrants to become dual citizens.

Enrique Morones, the founder of the San Diego-based immigrant rights nonprofit Border Angels, spoke at the consulate's event. He was the first person to get Mexican citizenship when it was first allowed a decade ago.

“I strongly recommend that other people do the same thing I did because it means that you have a love for both countries — and now more than ever, with some of the messages we’re getting from certain people about being superior, America first — there is no country that is superior," Morones said. "It's important for our children to see, hey, you should be proud of your roots."

Another benefit of Mexican citizenship is that people can vote in Mexican elections and own property anywhere south of the border, consular officials said.