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Legislators Support Mexican Consulate in Hawaii

By José Villa, Senior Editor
Hawaii Hispanic News

HONOLULU, Hawaii — A resolution requesting the establishment of a permanent Mexican Consulate in the state of Hawaii was presented in the 2011 Hawaii State Legislature’s session.

On April 8, the resolution passed, with amendments, the House Committee on International Affairs and then moved to the Senate. While the resolution was not a bill and, had it passed the Senate, would not have carried the force of law, it would still send the message of a strong call to action.

Representatives Karen Awana (D- Honokai Hale, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili) and Cindy
Evans (D-North Kona, South Kohala) introduced the resolution as a step towards addressing the limited access to consular services that Mexican nationals who live in
Hawaii face.

Currently, Hawaii is under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Consulate, which usually sends a mobile consulate team to each major Hawaiian island once a year to render consular services.

A University of Hawaii December 2010 study, “Mexicans in Hawaii: Recent Flows, and the Community’s Problems and Prospects,” concluded, “A permanent consulate would be better positioned [than the mobile San Francisco consulate] to act as an onsite watchdog for the civil rights of its Mexican nationals. At present, as our research demonstrates, these rights are being violated with impunity by federal, state, and local agencies based in the state. It would also ease the difficulties Mexican nationals face in accessing consular services.”

The UH study reported, “When asked what she perceived to be the greatest problems in
the community, a participant from Kailua-Kona spelled them succinctly: ‘La Inmigración, la policía, la discriminación. La policía: esperan a nosotros cuando hay música mexicana y nos paran. La Inmigración: si no tiene identificación te deporten y cuando tienen documentos se los quiten. [Immigration, the police, discrimination. The police: they wait
for us when there is Mexican music and they stop us. Immigration: if one does not have identification, they deport you, and when one has documents, they take them from you.]'”

“We introduced the bill when we realized the growing population in our state and the needs for a presence by the Mexican Consulate,” said Representative Karen Awana, House Chair of International Affairs. Representative Cindy Evans said, “I appreciate the
support we are getting for this resolution from the Latin community through the emails and phone calls to the senators and representatives.”

According to US Census data, within the past ten years, the Hispanic population in the state of Hawaii has increased nearly 38%. Currently, 8.9% of the state’s total population is Hispanic and 2.7% is Mexican, which translates to 35,606 Mexican residents and 115,966 Hispanic residents.

The resolution passed the House International Affairs Committee and the full House. It stalled in the Senate International Affairs Committee and died.

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