March 28, 2003

Due date is close, for Mexican “double citizenship” procedure

No me critiquen
porque vivo al otro lado
no soy un desarraigado
vine por necesidad…
El otro México, Los Tigres del Norte (Enrique Franco)

By: Marianna Martinez

March 20, 1998 a new law came in to force, through a constitutional amendment, establishing the fact that “No Mexican by birth can be deprived of his/her nationality”. Until then, Mexican legislature prohibited double nationality meaning that millions of people had to deny their Mexican citizenship in order to get their US citizenship, consequently loosing their rights as Mexican born.

On the borde, that was “fixed” with double registry (totally illegal but a common practice) that allowed children of Mexican parents, born in the US, to go to Mexican public schools or have a Mexican passport, while getting welfare or medical aid in the US, receiving the best of both nationalities.

But it wasn’t as easy in the rest of the country. People who left their towns to work in the US and decided to ask for US citizenship –and obtained it- came back to México only to find that they can’t buy houses in certain areas or run for public office, to represent the towns where they were born and raised.

Since the early 70’s, organized groups of Mexicans living in the US were advocates for the approval of the “double citizenship” constitutional amendment as a way to insure close contact with México and the possibility –when they came back- to keep common land or buy property in foreigner restricted areas, such as beaches and borders.

But in wasn’t until 1998 when the Global Development Plan was created. This Plan is designed to consider México not only in territorial terms, but also by population, so it included in the government’s policy the protection of Mexican immigrants, especially in the US.

Since then, those who have waved their Mexican nationality before March 20, 1998 have a five year window to apply for the reinstatement of Mexican nationality trough the nearest Consulate office.

What are the requirements?

· Passport, voting credential or naturalization paper to certify the owner as a citizen of another country.

· To be over 18 years old.

· Fill out all the forms.

· When applicable present one of the following:

o Certified copy of birth certificate issued by the Mexican Civil registry, mentioning the nationality of both parents, or

o Certified copy of birth certificate issued by the Mexican Consulate, or

o Double Checked certified copy of Mexican birth certificate, or

o Certified copy of “other nationality” birth certificate rightfully annotated, and accompanied by an official or notarized translation, or

o Certified copy of “other nationality” birth certificate issued by the Mexican National Registry Office.

· Updated identification issued either by a Mexican or US authority (or a photocopy).

· Two front color pictures (passport size)

· For those born outside México, they should provide their parents Birth Certificate or, in case they also adopted another nationality, a certified copy (or a photocopy) of their Mexican by birth certificate in their Naturalization documents.

· Payment of 16 dlls. Either by cash of money order paid for the Mexican Consulate.

Those who get their “double nationality” have equal rights as any Mexican; they can access public education, buy a house or land; and equal workers rights. The only constraint is the possibility of running for public office in México, because Mexican legislature distinguishes between citizenship and nationality. A Mexican is whomever is born by Mexican parents or within Mexican territory, but citizenship is the ability to vote and be voted. To vote you have to be over 18 years old and live in México, to be voted you most live in México, and more specifically, in the town you are running for at least 5, 10 or even 15 years depending on position.

The San Diego area.

The Mexican General Consulate in San Diego reported an increasing number of requests for acquiring the “double citizenship”. Since the law changed, the Consulate, in SD has reported this numbers:

Year Number of requests (all of them processed)

1998 106

1999 955

2000 765

2001 629

2002 960

Since January of this year, more than five thousand sets of documents requesting “double citizenship” have been received by the Consulate, and just in the last four days, more than seven thousand people went to the consulate offices to apply for their double nationality.

The five year period for receiving paperwork for double citizenship was due March 20th of this year.

Mexicans in the US- such as the Mexicans living outside México Coalition- have contacted Congress requesting an extension of this due date, mainly arguing the lack of publicity for the resolution, and the fact that over four million people at risk of loosing their chances to benefit from the resolution.

In January of this year, the Permanent Commission of the House of Representatives submitted a petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the double purpose of starting an awareness campaign as to the requirements for obtaining citizenship and the extension of the due date for such process.

Nevertheless, in order to further protect the rights of Mexicans living abroad, there are other legal means for them to obtain information, protection or apply for the reinstatement of their citizenship.

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