The long lines outside the Mexican Consulate in downtown Austin might soon be a distant memory.
The consulate, which provides a range of services to Mexican citizens, is moving its Central Texas operations to a more spacious facility at 5202 E. Ben White Blvd., Suite 150.
In preparation for a Sept. 5 opening, the Mexican Consulate will be closed from Wednesday to Sept. 4.
“Texas is attracting Mexican immigrants to Central Texas, and we need to be ready for them,” said Carlos González Gutiérrez, Austin’s consul general of Mexico.
The consulate, which has been in Austin since 1940, serves more than 500 people a day. It issues more than 250 passports and consular identifications daily and provides other services, including providing consultations on immigration issues and working with victims of domestic violence.
The move to the larger facility comes two years after González Gutiérrez announced it was a priority to find a new space to accommodate the consulate’s growing needs.
It also comes on the heels of Mexico’s unprecedented $50 million push to expand services at its U.S. consulates. Since President Donald Trump took office, the consulates have seen a spike in demand for helping Mexican citizens navigate the U.S. immigration system.
The funds for the new space, however, aren’t part of the $50 million initiative, as those dollars were designated for services such as one-on-one immigration consultations and emergency preparedness sessions, according to consulate officials.
The 26,000-square-foot facility in Southeast Austin, housed in the former campus of Advanced Micro Devices, will feature meeting and event spaces for nonprofit and community organizations, a gallery with a permanent exhibit, and larger waiting areas, including private waiting rooms for people seeking protection services.
The new location offers about 150 free parking spaces, an important amenity since most of the consulate’s visitors arrive by car, according to consulate officials. Its grounds also feature a jogging trail and pond, where events could be held.
Creating a space that promotes community, culture and pride are key to the Austin consulate’s continued growth, González Gutiérrez said.
The community center feel, the consul said, will “help our community to better integrate into society while still maintaining the links that tie them to Mexico.”
“Contrary to what people think, it’s in our interest to help them integrate into this country because we don’t like to see them in the margins of society,” González Gutiérrez said. “There’s nothing wrong with being a loyal U.S. citizen while at the same time maintaining the ties to your culture and country of origin, which gives you identity.”