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Group fights to keep Mexican Consulate open in Alaska

By Alexis Fernandez 7:12 PM September 22, 2015

Mexicans living in Alaska will soon have to travel out of state to receive services from the Consulate of Mexico.

Maribel Reyna is one of those people.  She says her family has used services at the consulate in Anchorage for different things, including support during a death in the family.

Her sister, Noehmi Reyna, died three years ago waiting for a lung transplant in California. Before she died, her family was able to say goodbye thanks to the consulate’s help.

“It helped get my grandfather and grandmother up here to visit my auntie before she passed, and if it wasn’t for them it would’ve taken a year, which my auntie didn’t have,” said Jose Valadez, Reyna’s son.

Noehmi left her two kids for Maribel to raise in Alaska.

“We’re pretty lucky to have it because we have a lot of family members in Mexico that we’re not able to see,” Valadez said. “Having that resource there, it’ll allow them to come up here.”

But come November, the consulate will close its doors, citing economic and lack of participation concerns.

Reyna and her family say it’ll mean new challenges.

“Without it they would have to go somewhere out of state to get the type of resources that they have there, which would be more expensive rather than it being here, which would be more convenient for everybody,” Valadez said.

Daniel Esparza, a community leader in Anchorage is leading a committee to stop the consulate from closing. Nearly 4,000 Mexicans in Alaska receive services at the consulate in Anchorage every year.

“It’s a huge impact and here in Alaska not just for the Mexican community, it’s for the latino community in general,” Esparza said.

He started a petition that has nearly 900 signatures so far. Many of the signatories have their own story to tell.

Esparza says the consulate is not only a place for visas and passports, it’s also a place to receive vital information.

“A lot of people from EL Salvador stop by in the consulate and say how can I contact my consulate in San Francisco, that kind of help, that kind of stuff,” Esparza explained.

But more importantly, it’s a place to turn to for support.

A representative from the consulate office in Seattle will be in Anchorage on Thursday to talk about the closure.

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