In what is billed as an unprecedented event, hundreds of Mexican immigrants are expected to gather at a Dothan church on Saturday. The Mexican consulate office will be there to welcome them, along with City of Dothan officials, many of whom will become aware of the area's Mexican population - documented or not – for the first time.
The event was originally coordinated to give Mexican nationals a chance to register with the consulate, but its taking on a whole new meaning because of Hurricane Katrina. Surviving after Hurricane Katrina is even more of a problem for undocumented immigrants, who may be apprehensive about asking for aid, for fear of deportation.
The event is being held at Dothan’s Saint Columba Catholic Church on West Main Street from 8am until 4pm. Mexicans interested in registering with the consulate will need two forms of identification proving they are native Mexicans, and one form proving they reside here in the Wiregrass.
Rich Lopez operates Dothan’s Tropicana radio, a Spanish language station which coordinated a visit from the Mexican consulate Saturday. The event will offer Mexican nationals, even those who are undocumented, a chance to register with the consulate. Lopez' three year relationship with the consulate brought about the visit, but it doesn't end there. City of Dothan officials, including the police and fire department, will also attend the event. It is an effort intended to welcome immigrant, and to ease their fears of assimilation, since they do work and spend money in our community. Ironically, experts say those same individuals who go in and out of shelters, in fear of the government, will probably be the same people carrying the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort on their backs.
The consulate will give Mexicans displaced by the hurricane information on how to receive aid. They are already planning another visit to Dothan sometime later this fall.