• Mexican natives line up in the parish center at Sodus' Church of the Epiphany Sept. 25 to have their identifcation documents copied by volunteers from diocesan Hispanic Migrant Ministry and verified by officials from the Mexican Consulate.

Migrants get identification

By Rob Cullivan/Catholic Courier    |    10.06.2004
Category: Local News


SODUS -- Hundreds of Mexican migrants living throughout the Rochester Diocese came to Church of the Epiphany Sept. 25 to obtain Mexican consular identification cards.

The Mexicans came to obtain the cards with the assistance of several representatives of the Mexican Consulate, who had traveled to the church from their office in New York City. The cards identify the bearers as Mexican nationals residing in the United States, and will allow the Mexicans to more easily travel from the U.S. to Mexico, according to Norberto Terrazas, consul for legal protection of Mexican citizens. He added that the card contains security features making it highly difficult to duplicate.

Sandra Rojas, coordinator of the Diocese of Rochester’s Hispanic Migrant Ministry in Monroe County, said many of the Mexicans have no form of official identification, which can create legal difficulties both in the U.S. and Mexico.

“They are invisible in this country,” Rojas said of the Mexicans, many of them employed as farm workers. “They need identification to prove who they are, to open a bank account; to cash a check; when the police stop them.”

Rojas noted that the registration effort was a cooperative venture between the Mexican Consulate and several diocesan officials, including Father Jesus Flores, diocesan coordinator for migrant ministry and sacramental minister at St. Mary’s of the Lake in Ontario; Carmelite Sister Luci Romero, Hispanic Migrant Ministry coordinator for Wayne County; and Xochitil Palacios, Hispanic Migrant Ministry coordinator for Yates and Ontario counties. Migrant ministry operates under the auspices of diocesan Parish Support Ministries.

Father Lance Gonyo, pastor of Church of the Epiphany, noted that many Sodus-area migrants attend a Spanish Mass at the parish.

“Our community has always been very supportive of the migrant community,” he said.

Rodrigo Gomez, 16, came to obtain the cards with his family members, who are registered aliens and have been farm workers in Brockport for the past five years, he said.

“We’re mostly working to get a better life,” he said, noting his mother and aunt were formerly employed as domestic workers in Mexico. “The pay was better here.”

His mother said she wanted the Mexican card so she could open a bank account in this country. The family members eventually want to become U.S. citizens, Rodrigo said.

Librada Paz, who holds dual U.S. and Mexican citizenships, said that even after 15 years of going back and forth between her two countries, she still needed the Mexican consular card. Having the card will make it easier for her to travel to Mexico to see family members, she said. Paz likened the consular card she was obtaining to a passport, and said she appreciated the fact that consulate representatives traveled so far to aid her and other Mexicans.

“It takes time to go to New York City,” she said. “Now that (consulate representatives) are here, it’s great for us.”

Sister Romero called the migrants a “community of hope” being served by the church.

“We’re energized -- a people of faith,” she said.

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