- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Jorge Sanchez’s job as Mexico’s consul in Indianapolis puts him on the front lines of the immigration surge in Indiana.

More than 500,000 Mexican nationals live in his jurisdiction, which also includes southern Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Of those, Sanchez said about 80,000 live in central Indiana alone.

And it is Sanchez’s responsibility to ensure they receive a variety of services through his consulate office, including assistance with such issues as immigrant documentation, international business deals and legal representation.

It’s a job that keeps Sanchez busy while his family settles into its new home in Fishers.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Sanchez said over breakfast with his son, Bruno, and wife, Eva. “The Mexican community is a very hard-working people and they want a better life for their families.”

Mexico has 51 consulates around the world. Sanchez is in charge at one of the largest in the U.S. The Indianapolis consulate office is so large, in fact, that Mexican nationals on average wait about 45 days before they receive help with documentation.

To keep up with demand, Sanchez is asking civic leaders to help him with programming and other services available at the consulate.

“I am trying to build relationships with everyone from governor to the sheriffs, to the police departments. That’s my job,” Sanchez told The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/VEQX9Y ).

Before life in the Mexican Foreign Service brought Sanchez and his family to Indiana last summer, the diplomat developed a passion for learning in the suburbs of Mexico City.

His parents - an economist and an accountant - encouraged Sanchez to enroll in a private college where he received his first lessons on how to become a diplomat.

“I learned about Mexican history, history around the world, law and many subjects,” Sanchez said. Nearly 40 years later he is wrapping up his first year as a head consul.

Sanchez previously served as a deputy consul in Detroit, where he tackled issues such as racial profiling and U.S. immigration policy for the first time.

“We had very difficult cases, but we have more cases here because this is a larger region,” Sanchez said.

His office on South East Street sees more than 100 consulate clients every day, and soon a new series of seminars could draw more people to the building.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday will launch a series of public safety classes at the consulate office.

Lessons about drunk driving, domestic violence and traffic violations will be offered while Mexican Nationals wait for assistance with documentation.

“We hope that we can have a better relationship with the Latino community,” said Officer Rafael Diaz, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. “We want to connect.”

Sanchez hopes the classes are the first step in helping nationals, who come to his office for protection services. Consulate employees often visit local jails to help nationals after they’ve experienced a run-in with the law.

Sanchez also hopes the police department will take a closer look at the Mexican identification cards the consulate issues to Nationals. Known as a matricula consular, the validity of the cards has been debated for years, but Sanchez wants that to change.

He also wants to help Mexican business owners and professionals by starting a sister city program in Indianapolis. The concept would connect Indianapolis with a city in Mexico, where business owners are looking to building partnerships with the U.S.

“We are trying to promote an understanding of Mexico in Indianapolis,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez served a 10-month stint as the migration and security adviser for the Mexican Foreign Service. The job in his native country is a part of a long list of positions he has taken in his career with the MFS since 1993.

Now, nearly 20 years later, his family is adjusting to life in Hamilton County while Sanchez searches for new ways to bridge the gap between his native country and the state.

His son, Bruno, plays football for Hamilton Southeastern High School, and his daughter Tamara, attends New York University in Abu Dhabi. The siblings grew up around the world sticking close to their mother, Eva, who enjoys carpentry, cooking and spending time with new friends.

“We are enjoying the summer,” Eva Sanchez said in their Saxony District home. “We have so many activities, the concerts, the market every Saturday . I like it a lot.”


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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