When Mexican residents living in Las Vegas visit the Consulate of Mexico on Sixth Street, they normally go to obtain a passport, birth certificate or other important documents.
Now they can visit to learn how to become a U.S. citizen and participate in democracy.
The Consulate of Mexico and Mi Familia Vota, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting civic participation in the Latino community, partnered to open the Civic Education Resource Center — or the Ventanilla de Educación Cívica — at the consulate, where Mexican residents can learn about their rights, the importance of engaging in their communities and how to obtain naturalization, according to Consul of Mexico Julián Escutia Rodríguez.
The immigrant, Mexican and Latino community have been the backbone of the economy in Las Vegas, said Hector Sanchez, president and CEO of Mi Familia Vota.
“That’s why it’s so important that we have access to our rights and access to democracy,” he said. “There is a direct correlation between civic participation and advancing our core priorities in our communities.”
The consulate and Mi Familia Vota signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday establishing a formal relationship so that Mi Familia Vota will have the space to operate the center inside the consulate.
The center will provide information on how to obtain naturalization, including how to study for and take the civics test, how to fill out and submit the necessary forms, and how much the process costs. It also will help people learn what their rights are, how to write to their representatives and senators, how to participate in elections, and how to get involved in their communities.
As the Latino population grows in Las Vegas, it’s important that Latinos’ civic engagement and participation grow with it, said Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Díaz, because “we need those leaders to know what is important to us and for them to act on issues that impact our community.”
“We need to start training our community to take the power that we possess and start showing up at the ballots, and ’24 is going to be an important year,” Díaz said.
Bris Mundo, a Las Vegas resident and volunteer with Mi Familia Vota, said many Mexican residents have lived in Las Vegas for years and are green card holders, but don’t know how to obtain their citizenship so they can vote. While the center does not provide legal advice, it will be able to help them figure out what the next steps are, she said.
“We are here to help them, advise them and just to know that we’re here for any advice that they might need to obtain their naturalization,” Mundo said.
The consulate is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the resource center will be open primarily in the morning, Escutia said. Even if the center is closed, a consulate employee will be able to help answer questions.