As the Trump administration puts more pressure on immigrants who are in the country temporarily or illegally, a growing number are taking steps to make sure that if they are deported or go home voluntarily, their American-born children won’t have any trouble going with them.
An increasing number of immigrants are heading to the Mexican consulate in Raleigh to secure dual citizenship for their American-born children so they can easily cross the border and establish new lives there.
The uptick in applications for dual citizenship began after Donald Trump was elected president in November and has become especially evident in recent weeks, said Remedios Gómez Arnau, the consul of Mexico. In response, the consulate has doubled the number of appointments for applicants – from 300 per month to 600 per month, Gómez Arnau said. Still, the waiting list to make an appointment is about 45 days long.
“There is a lot of fear,” said Gómez Arnau. “With so many conversations happening surrounding immigration status, people – both those who are undocumented and those who are on green cards – want to make sure the documents for the children are in order if their status changes.”
The children born in the United States to immigrants in the country illegally are American citizens, under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, but they aren’t automatically granted citizenship to the home country of their parents.
The children will not be blocked from entering Mexico with their parents if they have not yet been granted Mexican citizenship, Gómez Arnau said, but they will need to obtain dual citizenship in order to remain and receive the benefits of Mexican citizenship. She said that parents can apply for dual citizenship for their children once they are in Mexico.
But obtaining citizenship in Mexico can be a long process, notes William Saenz, the communications coordinator at El Pueblo, a Latino advocacy organization. Many people would rather start the application process now than wait and risk a change in policy. There’s also the risk that parents may become separated from their children if U.S. immigration officials detain them, Saenz said.
“Since it will already be difficult for the children to navigate the process without their parents available, having their citizenship ready is a positive step towards smoothly transitioning into the country and becoming reunited,” he wrote in an email.
One couple worried about keeping their family together are Belén and her husband, who live in East Raleigh and are in the country illegally. Belén, 28, arrived in the U.S. from Mexico 10 years ago. She met her husband, who is from Honduras, and the couple now have three children – ages 5, 3 and 1 – who were born in the United States and are American citizens.
Since Trump was elected, Belén, who requested that her last name not be used, has been worried about what will happen to her children if she or her husband is deported. She tried to attend an event at Garner’s St. Mary Mother of the Church earlier this month to learn how to obtain dual citizenship with Mexico for her children. But Belén was told turnout was so large that there was no space at the event, where immigration attorneys and local law enforcement officials spoke.
Saenz translated for Belén, who spoke Spanish.
“According to the people who were there, the reason for the large turnout was fear of the current presidential administration,” Saenz said.
That fear stems from Trump’s campaign promise to deport the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally. Since taking office, Trump has issued a directive that indicates anyone in violation of immigration law will be subject to removal and has signed another ordering the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration enforcement employees.
Rachel Chason: 919-829-4629
How to apply for dual citizenship
To make an appointment at the Mexican consulate in Raleigh, which is free of charge, call Mexitel 877-639-4835.
The required documents for obtaining dual citizenship, according to a list provided by the consulate, include:
▪ U.S. birth certificate of the child (original and 1 copy)
▪ Marriage certificate of the parents, if they are married (original and two copies)
▪ Proof of the Mexican nationality of the father, mother or both (original birth certificate or passport with two copies)
▪ Valid picture ID of both parents (original and two copies)
▪ Valid picture ID of two adult witnesses (original and two copies of each)