President Donald Trump’s promises to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport millions of undocumented immigrants have sent ripples of fear through the Mexican immigrant community in Idaho and beyond, the Mexican consul in Idaho says.
The fears worsened after enforcement raids starting late last week rounded up hundreds of immigrants around the country for deportation, said the consul, Celso Humberto Delgado Ramirez.
Delgado Ramirez said the consulate has seen a 50 percent increase in calls from immigrants seeking help and up to 40 percent more appointments at its Boise office since Trump took office.
He does not expect authorities to round up large numbers of Mexican immigrants in Idaho, but he has urged immigrants here to contact his office to secure whatever documentation they and their families are entitled to.
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The Mexican government set up a hotline it calls the Center of Information and Assistance to Mexicans at 1-855-463-6395 to provide legal advice to Mexican nationals whether they are in the United States legally or not. The Mexican Consulate in Idaho office’s number is 208-343-6228 and emergencies-only number is 208-919-1857.
“Nobody is alone,” Delgado Ramirez said. “The Constitution has rights for everybody living in this territory — the right to call your consulate, to get translations, to ask for a lawyer.”
The Boise consulate is at 701 Morrison Knudsen Plaza Drive, between Parkcenter and Park boulevards. It represents Mexican nationals in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon and northern Nevada.
Latinos — who include immigrants from Mexico as well as other countries in Latin America — made up about 12 percent of Idaho’s population in 2016, according to the U.S. Census. A 2012 Boise State University study found that about half of Idaho’s foreign-born workers with a high school education lack legal documentation.
Victor Constantino, who works in the Boise consulate’s Protection Affairs Department, said Delgado Ramirez has ramped up efforts to inform Mexican nationals of their rights and to get their paperwork in order.
“We are going to different counties to give that information,” he said. “We go to jails to give assistance. We are working to prevent problems.”
Delgado Ramirez said Congress should pass immigration reform that includes access to year-round work visas. The Idaho Dairymen’s Association collected more than 2,400 signatures on a petition asking for the same, citing a labor shortage and a reliance on immigrant labor.
“We need to find solutions, but not with police,” Delgado Ramirez said. “The solution is in Congress.”
Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @ZachKyleNews