Responding to requests from individuals and organizations, the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta is planning to expand its outreach programs to the large Mexican community in Gainesville in 2018.
The programs — Consulate on Wheels and Mobile Consulates — would bring consulate staff to the Gainesville area on a schedule that has yet to be determined, said spokeswoman Maria Monsalvo Ortiz.
Instead of driving an hour or more to get to the consulate in Atlanta, Mexicans living in Gainesville would have the option to wait for the consulate’s outreach programs to make a stop in the area.
Both programs would offer the same services available at the consulate, such as issuing certified copies of birth certificates from Mexico, providing passports, helping with voting credentials and other documentation.
The Consulate on Wheels visits cities in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee offering services during business hours Monday through Friday. The Mobile Consulate program is offered once a month on weekends in cities where the consulate’s presence has been less than in other areas.
Ortiz said the expansion to Gainesville is still in the planning stages. She said a schedule of visits has yet to be finalized.
The need to provide mobile services in Gainesville became a priority following a visit to the area earlier this year by Consul General Javier Diaz Leon.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan hosted a visit by Diaz Leon at City Hall in April so he could hear firsthand from community leaders about the growth of the Hispanic community. City officials then capped the diplomat’s visit by taking him to several businesses owned by Mexicans or where Mexicans work.
About 80 percent of the approximately 17,000 Hispanics living in Gainesville are Mexicans.
“The consul took note of the large Mexican population in Gainesville,” Ortiz said. “He’s had people ask him about bringing the consulate’s services to Gainesville.”