PLYMOUTH — The new Consul General of Mexico in Chicago, Eduardo Arnal, visited Plymouth Tuesday afternoon.
Arnal met with Mayor Mark Senter as part of his Indiana tour to discuss some of his goals for the Hispanic population under his jurisdiction (Illinois, Wisconsin, and the northern part of Indiana).
Arnal mentioned immigration issues, saying that a common question he gets is why Mexicans do not enter the U.S. legally.
“The answer is easy,” said Arnal. “Because it’s impossible. Not difficult—impossible.”
Arnal said that he believes the U.S. needs immigrant workers because many baby boomers are getting ready to retire. He said that he hopes the U.S. will soon stop fighting Mexican immigration and instead work with the Hispanic population. Arnal said that his goal is to help the Hispanic community integrate into the non-Hispanic community. One hinderance to this happening, he said is that families have concerns about not being documented citizens. Therefore, they are afraid of local law enforcement.
Arnal described an example: The family that moved to the U.S. from Mexico with small children, perhaps only 2 or 3 years old. Those children who have grown up in the U.S., he said, often feel more American than Mexican even though they are not citizens.
“They didn’t ask to come (to the U.S.),” said Arnal. “They can say the pledge of allegiance but they don’t know the Mexican anthem. They know English better than they know Spanish. (But) they have fear to walk the streets that they will be deported.”
Arnal later said that he believes “sooner or later we will have to have comprehensive immigration reform in this country.”
Arnal discussed some of the problems in Mexico, including drug dealing and illegal weapons trafficking. He stated that the Mexican government is trying to create the worst conditions possible for the drug business to get them to move to another place.
“We are not going to stop until they move out from Mexico,” said Arnal. “We cannot fail in this fight.”
Arnal also showed an example of a consulate-issued ID card for Mexicans living abroad, demonstrating how the validity of the card could be checked with a plastic decoder. He gave the mayor a stack of the decoders to pass on to the chief of police. Arnal showed how police could check in a pamphlet whether ID’s are current.
“We understand that for local authorities it is very important to know the identity of the person that you are in front of,” said Arnal, acknowledging that it would be difficult for law enforcement to verify a driver’s license from Mexico.
With the consulate-issued ID, he said, “you can be 100 percent sure of (the individual’s) identity.”
Mayor Senter closed the meeting by making a proclamation from the city of Plymouth thanking Arnal for his efforts and accomplishments and announcing the city’s intention to work with him and his staff. Mayor Senter also presented Arnal with a key to the city. Rebecca Griffy, director of Heart and Hands, was also present and gave Arnal gifts of artisan bread and some Blueberry Festival souvenirs.
Arnal was appointed Consul General of Mexico in Chicago in spring, and has since been working on visiting all 128 counties under his jurisdiction in Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Indiana.
Griffy said later that she appreciates Arnal’s proactive approach in contacting local governments.
“I applaud everything he said,” said Griffy. “Those were all things I would have loved to have said to this community for years.”
“Investing in (the Hispanic population) is also investing in the whole community and the U.S.,” continued Griffy. “There is going to be a time when we will be doing a lot more business with Mexico.”
Griffy said that she agrees that a change to the immigration system is needed.
“It’s broke, and it’s been broke a long time,” said Griffy.
As for Arnal’s statement that the U.S. needs immigrant workers, Griffy said that she absolutely agrees.
“It’s true, we need migrant workers,” said Griffy. “The jobs they do, I know most Americans, even those out of work, will not do. Especially if they are getting unemployment.”
“I was just shaking my head in the affirmative the whole time,” said Griffy of Arnal’s visit.