Evanston helps Mexican nationals get identification

Grace Johnson

In partnership with the city of Evanston, a mobile unit of the Chicago Mexican Consulate set up shop in the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., from Thursday to Saturday to provide members of the local Mexican community with a form of identification.

Evanston resident Felipe wants his 17-year-old daughter Leticia to go to college, but as a Mexican national, Leticia didn’t have the right type of identification.

From Thursday to Saturday, a mobile unit from the Chicago Mexican Consulate set up shop, including Felipe and his 17-year-old daughter Leticia, to obtain identification documents. Their last names have been withheld due to unclear immigration status.

“We host this unit to help provide a basic service to our residents,” said Adelita Hernandez, a community information specialist with the city and organizer of the event. “It helps encourage civil engagement among all members of the Evanston community.”

The three-day event allowed Mexican nationals to walk in and get a Mexican passport or a matricula identification card with help from the consulate. With these documents, proof of residence can be verified so residents can take part in basic city services such as enrolling their children for school or summer camp, Hernandez said.

The city has accepted the matricula card as a form of identification after passing an ordinance in 2004, Hernandez said. The Mexican government, through its consulates, issues the matricula card to Mexican nationals living outside of Mexico. The card contains similar information to a driver’s license.

“There could be a host of different situations for why people need these identification cards,” Hernandez said.

Leticia arrived with her family in the U.S. when she was six months old and since then has had no type of legal identification. By getting a matricula card, Leticia will be able to demonstrate her residency in the U.S. when applying to colleges.

The Mexican national community in Evanston makes up 3.8 percent of the population, according to 2000 Census results.

“People don’t realize it, but we do have a sizeable community,” Hernandez said.

The city held the same event with the Mexican Consulate in February 2009. That year, 701 people worked with the consulate to get proper identification. Hernandez said she expects the numbers this year to be comparable.

In order to get a matricula card or renewed Mexican passport, residents must prove their residency in the United States as well as provide their original Mexican birth certificate. Officials do not ask any questions about entry into the United States, Hernandez said.

The event this past weekend drew people from not only Evanston but from all over the Chicago area. Gloria from Carol Stream said she came to the event Saturday in order to avoid long wait times at the downtown consulate.

“I need my passport because some places don’t accept the matricula card as identification,” Rodriguez said. “Coming here saves me so much time.”

Hernandez said by hosting the consulate, the city can provide another basic service to its residents.

“We want to make sure we are serving all parts of our community,” she said.

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