EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – With food distribution for the needy and free tax preparation, an agency of the government of Mexico is deepening its ties with the immigrant community in El Paso.
Already, 1,349 families have received boxes of food at the Mexican consulate that were donated by El Pasoan’s Fighting Hunger Food Bank. Consulate officials said this partnership began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue from 8 am to noon next Tuesday at 910 E. San Antonio St.
“This initiative began […] with the intent of providing food security to vulnerable communities. Thanks to the community’s response, food delivery has taken place on a regular basis the second Tuesday of each month since September 2021,” the consulate said in an email to Border Report.
El Paso County’s food insecurity rate stood at 14.6 percent according to the latest report by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, while the rate was even higher in neighboring Hudspeth County, Texas, (17.3 percent) and Doña Ana County, New Mexico (15.5 percent ).
Mexico expanding ties with its migrants in the US
The consulate on Wednesday began hosting free tax preparation with visiting staff from Volunteers in Service to America (VITA). The service includes helping immigrants who don’t have a Social Security number apply for the federal Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) which allows them to file a personal income tax return and receive refunds, if applicable.
In-person sessions take place from 9 am to 12:30 pm every Wednesday through April 13. Appointments can be made at (915) 747-3224, (915) 747-3254 and (915) 747-3220.
The Mexican government has taken an expanded role in immigrant communities since the early 2000s. That’s when then-President Vicente Fox spurred the creation of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad and this citizens’ advisory board recommended the creation of community health, education, financial literacy, and community development departments in consulates.
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Consulates last year also hosted free COVID-19 vaccination for those who’d rather not got to local government venues.
The Foreign Ministry reemphasized the community involvement directive in its 2020-2024 development plan.
This “implies bringing about a binational approach so that the Mexican community abroad actively participates in actions to improve their living conditions and representation in the places where it resides,” the plan states. That’s to be achieved through “coordination with diverse institutions … encompassing health, education, economic development, community integration, sports and culture.”