During a trip last week for the annual meeting in Mexico City of Mexico’s foreign ambassadors and consuls, Austin’s Mexican consul general discussed the state of his country’s relationship with Texas and became a lead advocate for a new campaign to increase Mexican dual citizenship in the United States.
On his first day back in Austin, Carlos González Gutiérrez on Tuesday recounted the meetings — which ended with an impromptu celebration after the capture of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord — and announced plans to push the dual citizenship campaign in Austin through local outreach efforts.
“There are more than 600,000 Mexican legal residents living in Texas who have the right to U.S. citizenship,” he told the American-Statesman. “We have been instructed by the secretary of foreign affairs to promote aggressively the benefits of dual citizenship.”
The initiative is aimed at 3 million Mexican citizens living in the United States who González Gutiérrez said would improve their quality of life by also becoming U.S. citizens.
González Gutiérrez said part of the campaign’s goal is to bring Mexican citizens living in the United States into American civic life. By becoming citizens, for example, they would gain the right to vote in U.S. elections.
“This is a benefit to Mexico, but we believe it’s also a benefit to the U.S.,” he said, “because it helps integrate them into U.S. society.”
Dual citizenship is also available to approximately 20 million U.S. citizens with Mexican parents who qualify for Mexican citizenship, which would allow them to travel and do business freely in Mexico and facilitate their purchase of property there.
González Gutiérrez also met with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu to update her on diplomatic efforts with Texas.
While the relationship between the two sides has improved since Gov. Greg Abbott came to office, González Gutiérrez said, the Mexican government has made clear its opposition to policies such as the National Guard’s presence at the Texas border and the state health department’s refusal to accept Mexican passports without visas and consular cards as identifying documents to receive birth certificates for Texan children.
“Our dialogue has been positive, and we appreciate that,” González Gutiérrez said. “But we’ve also been able to express to them our obvious differences.”
Texas and Mexico, he said, are “inextricably tied,” and the state stands to be one of the major benefactors of its southern neighbor’s recent energy reforms that have opened up investment in Mexico’s vast natural gas and petroleum industry.
“Just as it was one of the main benefactors of (the North American Free Trade Agreement), Texas stands to be one of the main benefactors of the energy reform in Mexico,” he said. “It is very important that people here see that.”
Mexico has made progress in its dialogue with Texas’ government, including the return of meetings between border cities from both sides of the Rio Grande. Those meetings had been halted in recent years as tensions between both sides rose.
Last year, Abbott made Mexico City his first international destination as governor, where he met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and González Gutiérrez has said that bringing the Mexican head of state to Texas is one of his main goals.
The annual meeting of the consuls and foreign ambassadors concluded on a high note Friday night when the country’s interior secretary announced mid-speech that authorities had recaptured Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as “El Chapo,” who had escaped from a Mexican federal prison for the second time in July.
“We broke out in applause and yells of ‘Viva Mexico!’ and an impromptu rendition of the national anthem,” González Gutiérrez said of the drug lord’s capture. “It was an emotional moment not just for us but for all Mexicans, because his escape had been a source of embarrassment and anger.”