Supporters of a permanent Mexican Consulate in Oklahoma are calling on the community to take action.
Scissortail Community Development Corporation President Robert Ruiz said opening a Mexican consulate in Oklahoma City would make a big difference for Mexican citizens who are trying to conduct daily business.
Forms of identification, legal matters, property and employment documents, and more are services provided by a foreign consulate.
Some people are having to drive to the nearest Mexican Consulate, which is in Little Rock, Arkansas, to appear in person to get legal forms of identification required to apply for bank accounts or lines of credit.
During COVID, this became an issue as fewer appointment times were available, and the mobile consulate that spent some time in Oklahoma City spent less time traveling, he said.
“Especially during the time of COVID, a lot of citizens were going without these services,” Ruiz said.
But this comes after about 10 years of effort to bring a permanent consulate to Oklahoma.
The Hispanic population in Oklahoma is growing in number and economic influence.
About 440,000 Hispanic people live in the state, according to 2019 U.S. Census data.
About 84% are of Mexican decent, according to Geoscape, American Marketplace Datastream 2019 Series.
And according to a study by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma City, over one third of the population is foreign born.
The consulate is expected to draw thousands of people from surrounding states to receive services.
“This doesn’t only affect citizens of Mexico, it affects local businesses, local communities. It is going to impact a lot of business and areas for a lot of us,” Miriam Campos, a trustee for the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust said.
Banks in the city are seeing these issues firsthand.
“We want to serve our members our customers through mainstream financial services -- savings accounts, bank accounts and checking accounts, and also loans. Without a proper identification [from the consulate], we’re not able to do that for residents who are still citizens of Mexico without services provided by the consulate,” Brent Rempe, Allegiance Credit Union Chief Revenue Officer said.
Rempe said high risk, high interest loans from predatory lenders are an unsafe alternative that some people turn to when they cannot access a mainstream financial option.
Now, a community letter writing campaign is underway to demonstrate community support for the consulate to the Mexican foreign affairs office.
“Already from yesterday afternoon to today, we’ve had almost 3,000 people send letters of support to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Mexico,” Ruiz said.
Mayor of Oklahoma City David Holt expressed support for the consulate this week.
The consulate could also be located in Tulsa.
Information about how to send a letter can be found here.