The Mobile Consulate at the Catholic
Government on Wheels
Grisel Tapia of LUCES (l-r), Maura Santana Mancilla, Mexican Mobile
Coordinator, Unit 1, Consulado General de Mexico en Chicago, Liliam
Post of the Catholic Multicultural Center and Ismael Herrera of the Latino
Academy for Workforce Development
By Jonathan Gramling
From July 12-15, the waiting area of the Catholic
Multicultural Center on Madison’s south side looked like an
airport terminal with individuals and families of Mexican
descent waiting patiently for their number to be called. They
weren’t going anywhere — at least not in the immediate
sense — but were being saved a trip to Chicago.
There is a saying that if Mohammed can’t come to the
mountain, then bring the mountain to Mohammed. The
Mexican consulate had come to Madison to provide
important services to Mexican citizens living in the
“The Mobile Consulate is a program of the government of
Mexico,” said Maura Santana Mancilla, Mexican Mobile
coordinator, Unit 1. “It is carried out in many of the states in
the United States. There are 56 Mexican consulates around
the United States. But only four consulates in the United
States — like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — have
this kind of program with these kinds of services that are
brought to the community in the cities where the people
cannot reach or go to the Mexican consulate in the city.”
While many of the members of the staff of the Mexican consulate in Chicago might enjoy their weekends in Chicago with its many
cultural resources, Mancilla and others spend their time in cities in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin providing these services.
“We work for the government happily to serve the community the most that we can do and the best that we can,” Mancilla said, a 30-
year veteran of the Mexican foreign service in the United States.
There are two primary services that are offered by the Mobile Consulate.
“It issues the Mexican passport and the Mexican ID that we call matricula consular,” Mancilla said. “These are very important
documents for the Mexican community because they can identify the nationality of the people and where they are living at the moment.
Also we provide information about protection rights and education. If the people can reach and approach goals to ask information
about educational programs or the protection department, we can provide information.”
And during gubernatorial and presidential elections in Mexico, individuals who are registered to vote in Mexico can vote absentee at
the Mobile Consulate.
“I don’t exactly remember the number of votes that Mexico received in this election, but it was a considerable number,” Mancilla said.
“People can have the opportunity to express their view on the president or their governor in their state.”
For all other services that Mexican nationals may need, they need to make a trip to Chicago.
“There are many services that the consulates of Mexico provide, especially work for the Mexican people and aiding businesses to go
to Mexico,” Mancilla said. “They have several programs such as the protection department and the education department and the
cultural department. The programs are very rich. There are offices that are specialized in tourism. They have a Mexican tourism office
in Chicago as well.”
While the lobby area of the center was filled on Saturday and Sunday, Mancilla said the attendance was down for this session of the
“We started the service on Thursday and on Thursday; we had around 80 people only,” Mancilla said. “On Friday and today, we helped
around 120 people each day. It is still a lot. Usually we have 150-200 every day. We feel that the construction held down the numbers.
They thought this building was closed.”
The Mobile Consulate wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of the Catholic Multicultural Center as well as LUCES, which
coordinates the visit and recruits volunteers along with the Latino Academy for Workforce Development. It is a partnership that
benefits the many Mexican citizens who make an important contribution to the quality of life in Madison.
While the Mobile Consulate has packed up and headed for another city, rest assured it will be back in the fall to provide its important