Mexican migrants line city sidewalks for passports


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Photo by Chris McGuigan |

Thousands of Mexican migrants camp out on New Street overnight in hopes of receiving a passport during The Consulate on Wheels' 5-day stop in New Brunswick.


Thousands of people, mostly Mexican migrants, waited, some for up to 24 hours, last week to receive passports from a temporary mobile Mexican consulate set up at Middlesex Community College center on New Street.

The Consulate on Wheels, which was in the city for five days beginning last Monday, issued about 2,500 passports to Mexican citizens. They had to turn away others who did not have the correct paperwork or were not Mexican citizens.

"What we do is, people stand in line outside," Yolanda Castro, consul of the Consulate on Wheels said. "We try to determine from the very outside if they are applicants that will be able to get their documents with whatever they show us right there."

She said they check to see if the documents are the originals and then help people fill out the paper work.

The consulate hopes to provide this service year round so people do not have to wait on such long lines, Castro said.

"It's not nice. It's not good and it's not worth it," she said about the long wait.

New Brunswick Tomorrow organized the mobile consulate with the Mexican consulate. The organization, founded in 1975, manages the social revitalization of the city and focuses on health, human service and educational issues Jeffery Vega, the president of the organization said.

"Before this we met with the ambassador from the Mexican consulate's office who asked for us to coordinate the effort," Vega said. "We reached out to the two Mexican American organizations and the Lazos America Unida and reached out to them because they are the ones who have contact with the community."

Vega said, in New Brunswick, the largest segment of the Hispanic community is Mexican, which made it an ideal location for the consulate to stop.

"People are expecting to be received so they stay overnight, with children, elders. It doesn't matter if it's raining. It was raining yesterday," Teresa Vivar said. Vivar is the president of Lazos America Unida, a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes the exchange of knowledge.

Adrian Torres, 15, came Friday, with his parents and younger sister to get their passports. He said they had been waiting since 4 a.m. and passed the time sleeping on the street.

The Torres family is originally from the city of Puebla in Mexico, but his family moved four years ago because they wanted a better life, Torres said.

Prior to this, he said the family had been waiting to get their passports for months.

Vivar said the Mexican consulate is offering identification and passports through the mobile consulate because it is difficult for many of to people to get to the consulate in New York.

"It's hard for them to go [into the city] sometimes," Vivar said. "Some people are afraid, also, to travel. They don't know the city."

She said people with expired passports or no passports at all often wait for the mobile consulate to come around, but this causes a long line.

"Basically, we just try to support," Vivar said. "We come during the night. We try to support them in anyway possible."

She said the First Reformed Church allowed people to sleep in the church. Some people wanted to go but others were afraid to leave the street because they thought they would lose the opportunity to receive a passport if they got out of line she said.

"There is still a huge need of accommodations of people waiting," Vivar said. "We have different organizations, at this moment, helping out as volunteers."


Michelle Cerone

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