Photo: Milwaukee Independent

By KELIN DILLON

Employees of Mexican consulates in the United States, outraged over massive layoffs during the holiday season, are calling on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to find a solution to their problems.

The layoffs are the result of the U.S. government refusing to renew the employees’ A-2 visas.

The A-2 visa allows foreign officials to enter the United States to engage in official government activities at an embassy or consulate. Approximately 1,700 people working for the Mexican government across its northern border hold this specific visa. The removal of this visa would rescind their right to live and work in the United States, forcing employees to return to their home country immediately.

A group of the disgruntled consulate workers, via the Local Employees Committee, sent a letter to López Obrador outlining their grievances with the Mexican government about the visa situation, asking for the president’s intervention on their behalf.

The letter outlined how employees were notified of their termination while on vacation for the holidays, many in the United States, forcing their immediate return to Mexico. Over 500 employees of Mexican consulates in the United States are expected to lose their jobs in the upcoming weeks. 

The committee claim these layoffs have no “equitable criterion” to be taking place.

“We, the consular employees, are also migrant workers. Despite the fact that our job is to safeguard the interests of our compatriots abroad, we are unprotected in employment by the Mexican government itself,” said the letter.

The U.S. government announced in 2015 it would not be renewing the A-2 visas for employees who were not otherwise legal residents of the United States, which the Local Employees Committee warned Mexican government about.

The letter called out the Mexican government for its disregard for Mexican workers and lack of intervention on issues that it had been aware of for years.

“Five years have passed, two under this administration, in which the Mexican government did not assist with the regularization of our labor rights,” read the committee’s letter to AMLO.

“The efforts of this committee were underestimated and ignored. Now the situation has run out of time. The pandemic is being used as a pretext to justify the lack of will, commitment and loyalty toward the Mexican worker, who proudly carries the name and image of our country very high throughout the United States.”

The committee also called out the Mexican secretary of foreign relations (SRE), Marcelo Ebrard, for recognizing the layoffs as unjust, but not intervening.

The Local Employees Committee’s letter asked for AMLO and Ebrard to find a solution for the Mexican government employees working abroad, who still remain unprotected, particularly those who just lost or are about to lose their jobs.

“Ironically, our own country deports us and throws us into unemployment statistics,” the letter said.

As AMLO continues to focus on labor issues within Mexico itself, it remains to be seen if he extends the same attention to Mexican citizens working abroad.

…Dec. 28, 2020

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