During the course of reporting a separate story for the paper version of Unfair Park, I met with Mexican Consul General Enrique Hubbard Urrea in his brand-new digs this week and learned an interesting tidbit: It seems that while Mexican immigration to the U.S. is at a 10-year low, consulate staffers have noticed a surge of Mexican workers arriving in Dallas from other states where the service and construction industries are worse off than in Texas.
"We have seen some families leaving, but the number of families coming from other states is much, much higher," Hubbard Urrea said in Spanish. "We started noticing it last year -- people coming with matriculas [consular IDs] from places like Nevada and California."
The new consulate on River Bend Drive is certainly a far cry from the shabby offices off Stemmons, where families often had to wait in the heat or cold outside due to lack of space. It's four times bigger than the old building, consulate spokesman Jesus Contreras Cantu told me during a tour, and includes an enormous room full of people waiting for passports and matriculas (there's a one-month wait for the former; a three-month wait for the latter). There's also a wide gallery space filled with photographs of Mexican sites and oil paintings donated by a wealthy Mexico City family.
"The consul wanted to make sure people didn't have to wait outside," said Contreras Cantu, pointing out the tall trees surrounding the office park. "It feels like we're working in a forest, not right next to a freeway."
While hundreds of people sat waiting for passports, matriculas, legal help or health information downstairs, in the spacious private offices on an upper floor, the counsul general and his spokesman sat on plush leather couches chatting about the weekend's well-attended soccer match at Cowboys Stadium, which drew more than 82,000 mostly Mexican fans.
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"Eighty-two thousand people were there," Hubbard Urrea said, shaking his head. "That should remind people how substantial the Mexican community is here."