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To Serve Orange County : Santa Ana May Seek Mexican Consulate

Times Staff Writer

This city is exploring the idea of having the Mexican government open a consulate in the city for the convenience of Orange County’s growing number of Latinos as well as for the police and government agencies that deal with the Mexican government on a daily basis, City Manager Robert C. Bobb said Saturday.

Bobb cautioned, however, that the proposal is far from fruition.

“The whole concept is very preliminary,” he said, adding that he and other city officials will soon meet with members of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles to review the idea.

Bobb said he has contacted Luis Lara Vega, the Mexican consul in Los Angeles, who will set a time for the meeting sometime in the next few days.

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Difficulties of Travel

The latest U.S. Census puts the number of Latinos in Orange County at more than 300,000, many of them Mexican nationals. Although their numbers are growing, the county’s Latino residents must travel to downtown Los Angeles anytime they transact business requiring the services of the consulate, Bobb said.

A consulate in Orange County would ease that problem, and it would also alleviate the frequent--almost daily--trips that local police officers make to Los Angeles for assistance in identifying deceased Mexican citizens, helping injured Mexicans and assisting those with legal problems, Bobb added.

As the number of Latino residents in Orange County continues to grow, the demands on the Los Angeles consulate have increased, he said. Consulate officials report about 100 requests daily from Orange County residents or government agencies.

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Bobb said the proposal to open Orange County’s first foreign consulate makes sense in view of the “large number of Mexican nationals residing in the county. This (proposal) would decrease travel time and it would be a matter of convenience,” he said.

Information Sought on Process

The city manager added that the meeting with Lara Vega is needed for local officials to learn exactly how a consulate could be established.

“We’re not at all familiar with the process of establishing a consulate office. And I know that when dealing with the Mexican government, protocol is extremely important,” Bobb said. “These discussions are intended for them (Mexican officials) to define for us the specific process.”

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All the necessary information regarding Santa Ana’s bid for a consulate would eventually be forwarded to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, which would then evaluate the request. If both the Mexican and U.S. governments approve the idea, Gov. George Deukmejian and the Orange County Board of Supervisors would also have to ratify the proposal.


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