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What goes on at the Mexican consulate here?

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published October 13, 2008 at 11:16 a.m.

In April 2007, the Mexican government formally opened its 47th consulate in the United States in Little Rock, bringing the first - and still only - foreign consulate to the state, as Samantha Friedman reports in Tuesday's Style section. Mexico's is the largest consular network operated by any country inside another.

Four years before, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had flown to Mexico City to meet with former Mexican President Vicente Fox to suggest he consider establishing consular representation in Arkansas. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Arkansas had 104,920 Mexicans out of a Hispanic population of 138,283. Considering the thousands of uncounted illegal aliens, Andres Chao, Mexican consul in Little Rock, estimates the actual number of Mexicans is closer to 185,000.

In its first year and a half, the consulate issued almost 30,000 documents to Mexicans in its jurisdiction of Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and western Tennessee - and Mississippi, until the New Orleans consulate reopened in March. For Mexican nationals, those documents include consular identification cards, passports, powers of attorney, birth certificates and marriage licenses, as well as visas for foreigners planning to spend prolonged periods of time in Mexico.

The consulate, at 3500 S. University Ave., reports that the greatest demand is for the identification card, called matricula consular in Spanish, and issued by the Mexican government since 1871. The card represents more than half of all documents issued.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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