Mexican official wants to speed up resolution of driver’s license issue |

Mexican official wants to speed up resolution of driver’s license issue

A Mexican official in Glenwood Springs Thursday called for the repeal of a state law prohibiting undocumented residents from obtaining driver’s licenses.Mexican Consul General Leticia Calzada, who serves a multistate region that includes Colorado, called the restriction “very tough for them and for me, too.”Undocumented residents are being cited for minor offenses that “are clogging courthouses in many counties because these Mexicans need to drive,” she said.On Feb. 14, the Colorado Senate voted down a bill that would have granted driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrant workers who do not have a Social Security number, but who could provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS. Calzada’s comments came during a Thursday meeting with local educators at Colorado Mountain College’s Blake Avenue Center.At that meeting, she also called for a new U.S./Mexican accord on immigration, and promised to serve as a resource for educators confronting challenges with the influx of Mexicans in local schools.An immigration agreement is needed “to put order in this disorder” involving undocumented Mexicans in the United States, she said.For the sake of the United States, and Colorado in particular, the issue of undocumented Mexicans must be resolved, she said.”They are providing labor and energy to the economy of Colorado,” she said.She said she finds Mexican workers in every hotel and restaurant she visits in resort regions.”Without Mexicans, Beaver Creek could not run,” she said.An immigration agreement, Calzada said, also would be good for Mexico, “because Mexico needs some time – I don’t know, maybe 15 or 20 years – to improve its economy, its situation.”In response to concerns from some Americans that Mexicans threaten to overpopulate the United States, Calzada assured her audience that Mexico wants its citizens to find good work at home.”We would like to see the people of Mexico living in Mexico,” she said.Calzada said it is important for her to let Americans know of the dramatic changes going on in Mexico. The 2000 election of Mexican President Vicente Fox ended 72 years of government by one party (see related story below).”Everybody went out to the streets to celebrate. Mexico finally was liberated,” she said.Fox considers the Mexicans living in the United States “the forgotten ones” – economic exiles who deserve more attention, Calzada said.Her job is to emphasize to the United States the importance of its relationship to Mexico because of their common border, history, cultural and family links, and economy and trade.”Mexico is … close to the United States, but still in many ways remains too far,” she said.Educational relationships across the borderShe said her office works to establish relationships with political, educational and other leaders and citizens in the United States.Though its staffing and funding is limited, and it can’t work alone, her office can act as a resource for those working to address issues surrounding Mexican-American relations, she said.These include issues in the field of education. On Thursday, Calzada heard about several problems local educators have come across. Among them:-The lack of scholarship aid for undocumented citizens. This limits the post-secondary opportunities for Mexican high school students and can reduce their desire to study hard and graduate.-The difficulty in teaching Spanish-speaking youngsters English quickly enough so they can score well on student achievement tests. Schools are evaluated based on student performance and graduation rates, and low scores pull down the school’s average.-The challenge of finding bilingual, documented employees. -The need for materials to help Mexican parents understand how the school systems operate in the United States.Calzada said her office works on many fronts to help provide written material to Mexicans in the United States, such as textbooks, tips for migrant woman, and information on AIDS awareness, diabetes, and teen pregnancy prevention.She can only undertake these efforts with the help of service clubs, nonprofit organizations and other groups and individuals, she said.Calzada said she and her representatives also “can act as bridges” for colleges and other institutions seeking to create study programs and other cross-cultural endeavors with their counterparts in Mexico.In addition, they can help establish relationships with Mexican institutions of higher learning to help American educators direct undocumented students toward post-secondary opportunities in Mexico.Calzada said she would help find Mexican teachers, nurses and other workers, living either in Mexico or Colorado, who could help fill the need for bilingual workers.Ren Martinez, who works with La Mesa, a Latino community organizing group in Avon, said it benefits Americans to assist Latinos in making the difficult transition to living in the United States.”If we can help the people in that transition, I think we can help the community, because they’re part of the community,” he said.

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