issues took up a lot of the discussion time.
Carolina (Aguilera) Phillips,
a paralegal with the DiFranco Law Office, spends the better part
of her time in the firm’s North Toledo office dealing with
potential deportations and trying to keep families together.
The Mexican Cónsul promised to help immigration detainees
whenever possible. His consulate has jurisdiction over Michigan
and northern Ohio.
“We can get involved and get a lawyer to come. But it has to be
basically human rights issues for us to get involved,” said
Juan Manuel Solana, General Cónsul of México.
“The second thing we do is to try to visit the prisons to see
how they are doing. If you know of someplace with some
complaints, please send me an email so I can put it into the
program to visit.”
The Mexican Cónsul also spoke of a program that his office
offers which encourages Mexican immigrants to pursue dual
citizenship, but stated emphatically that “they need to
register.” The key, he said, is their nationality. But it must
be promoted so they can register.
Ms. Phillips also raised the issue of when law enforcement asks
an immigrant for identification and a matricular consular
ID card is shown, then federal Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) officials are called to determine an immigrant
“It has nothing to do with legality,” explained Cónsul Solana.
“I think it’s a very important tool for police, because it has
three elements—their name, their date of birth, and the address
where they live. It’s a real ID and we keep records,
He encouraged Ms. Phillips and others to have police call his
office and he will verify the ID for them. He also stated his
desire to go to a police academy and train officers about the
matricular ID “and other significant issues.”
The cónsul of México had a same-day meeting scheduled with
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins where he intended to
request such a training session with police, but the meeting was
postponed. Mayor Collins received a last-minute invitation to
attend a Washington, D.C. summit on homeless veterans and was
traveling Wednesday morning.
“That’s a big, red flag when they show they’re from another
country,” explained Ms. Phillips.
“When they do that, we could make a case for profiling,”
countered Solana Morales. “We can make a case for someone who is
here legally, shows a matricular ID, because they call
immigration, we can sue. We are willing to pay for a lawyer. We
just need one person willing to do that for us. We just have to
prove they’re here legally.”
But the cónsul of México warned that proving such a case and
winning is both “tricky” and “complicated.” He did state the
Mexican Consulate did win such a case in Kentucky, because the
people who were stopped were legal U.S. citizens.
“In that case, it was enough to scare all of the police in the
area,” he said.
community organizer for ONE Village Council, which is
affiliated with the United North community development
corporation, stated an effort is underway in North Toledo to
make it “an intentional point of destination for Latinos and
immigrants,” in order to repopulate the area.
“We want to be more immigrant-friendly,” he said, inviting the
Mexican consulate to come and help promote the effort. The CDC
intends to help undocumented immigrants get to whatever legal
status they can.
The two men talked of hosting a festival-like special event at
the Ohio Theatre for Latino families, possibly inviting
El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico. Elaina
Hernández, director of the dance troupe, admitted some of
her dancers are undocumented immigrants, but she only finds out
if they confide in her. The aim of the event would be to draw
families, who could then meet with the consulate of México
individually for assistance.
Sr. Pérez also is working with Baldemar Velásquez, founder and
president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)
to host a community forum on alleged ethnic profiling by
law enforcement. He stated the forum is likely to be held toward
the end of June.
“There’s going to be a forum to challenge local law enforcement
and possibly surrounding law enforcement, Oregon and other
places, to let them know that profiling is against the law and
involve human rights issues,” he said. “So we’re going to raise
the issue up very high.”
“Sometimes with the presence of the consulate we can raise up
the sensitivity a little bit,” said Solana. “It’s important that
we get involved. We want to. If we can get a good relationship
with the chiefs, it can help to solve the problem.”
The consulate of México also promoted the distribution of nearly
30 Spanish –language pamphlets his office has printed, promoting
how immigrants can get a passport, get a visa, how to get a
driver’s license, what to do when detained by police, and other
common issues they face. He passed out samples of the pamphlets,
hoping to establish a central distribution point in the Toledo
area “so people can get educated,” he said.
“I want to empower the Mexican population,” he said. “If we
empower them, they will be able to fight for their own rights.
The second thing is I want a better image for México.”
Other people in attendance were Jesús Angel (managing
partner of El Camino Real), José Luna (Hispanic liaison
to Toledo Public Schools), Federico Martínez (The Blade),
Rico de la Prensa, Adrianne Chasteen and
Adrianne Chasteen II (La Prensa), and Andrés Lawrence
(intern at the consulate).