Vaccinations and AIDS tests.
By Patricia Giovine
EL PASO, TEXAS -- At least 600 immigrants, most of them undocumented, have been vaccinated this year by the Mexican Consulate in El Paso in its efforts to improve the quality of life of Mexicans who are afraid to go to hospitals.
Mexico's consul in this border city, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, told Efe that 250 AIDS tests have also been performed.
"The immigrant community, especially those who are undocumented in El Paso, come to us so that we will provide them with free health care because they're afraid of being reported if they show up at clinics or hospitals," he said.
Rodriguez said that because of the immigrant community's ignorance about its rights, the consulate is carrying out a campaign to get those who need medical care to go to clinics serving low-income people.
"In that way, hundreds of undocumented immigrants have started going to clinics where they are treated and pay according to their economic possibilities," the diplomat said.
Vaccines have also been sent to remote rural and poor areas like Lovington and Hobbs in neighboring New Mexico, where workers from the El Paso consulate go as well.
"The intention is to improve the quality of life of Mexicans in South Texas and New Mexico by giving them ways to take care of their health and avoid worse problems later on that could require emergency service," he said.
The Mexican Consulate also tries to raise compatriots' educational levels and imbue them with the cultural values and traditions they left behind and now miss so much.
Rodriguez Hernandez said that the consulate will also increase the number of places for high-school students in New Mexico's Doņa Ana County.
At the same time it will increase the number of places at El Paso's Center Against Family Violence.
These centers are devoted to improving education for Mexicans, including abused women, and plan to extend their facilities to poor Latino neighborhoods, churches and community centers.
They have also established support centers in jails like La Tuna Federal Prison in New Mexico, where more than 150 inmates have received high-school instruction and upon graduation receive a diploma from Mexican educational authorities.
"This is especially important because when these Mexicans are released they are deported to Mexico, and with these studies they can find a decent job," he said.
Rodriguez said they have stressed keeping up Mexicans' pride in their roots, and have organized Mexican celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo, Mexican independence day, altars to the dead, Day of the Child and Christmas "posadas," symbolizing Mary and Joseph finding a place for Jesus to be born.
"We generally try to give Mexicans a comprehensive kind of attention so they will value their roots and integrate better in the United States," he said.