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Many immigrants face election decisions on both sides of border


The following is from the February 12, 2012, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Roberto Corona, a community outreach coordinator for SMU's Embrey Human Rights Program, and SMU student Adriana Martínez were interviewed for this story.

SMU's "Migration Matters"

Migration Matters lecture series at SMU
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February 13, 2012

The Dallas Morning News Staff Writers

Claudia Torrescano grows more optimistic about her life as a naturalized U.S. citizen as the years go by. The radio broadcaster has a successful talk show for women. The 45-year-old mother of four is involved in the PTA. She doesn’t rule out running for school board someday.

But, just as she mused about whether to vote for a guy named Mitt or an incumbent named Barack, a woman named Josefina emerged. That’s Josefina Vázquez Mota, the first woman presidential candidate for a major Mexican political party.

Every dozen years, U.S. and Mexican presidential election cycles coincide, but this year is the first time that Mexican immigrants with U.S. citizenship can vote for U.S. candidates and also vote in Mexico’s election by absentee ballot. Some, like Torrescano, will actually travel back to their home states to vote in the federal elections. . .

Left out of voting entirely is Roberto Corona, who left Michoacán as a 14-year-old and grew up in the Los Angeles area. He identifies as a Mexican-American, but the 36-year-old doesn’t hold U.S. citizenship yet. Corona is still a green-card holder.

He won’t vote in this summer’s Mexican election as an absentee voter either, because under the rules for absentee voting, he would have had to make an expensive trip back to Mexico to obtain a voting credential. Relatively few Mexicans voted absentee in the election six years ago.

Corona works as a community outreach coordinator at the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University. His pet project there is organizing day laborers.

Corona tells workers to get documents, such as Mexican Consulate identification cards, whenever possible, and to seek citizenship if they are green-card holders. He also tells them to vote.

“I believe change can come through politics,” Corona said. “But I believe more in people. People who know their basic human rights can organize and get change.” . . .

Adriana Martínez faces the same dilemma as other Mexican immigrants. She’s a high-achieving senior at Southern Methodist University. She serves on the SMU Board of Trustees as the student trustee representative. She had an internship with the U.S. Department of Justice, which placed her in a liaison post with Mexico’s attorney general on implementing the anti-child abduction program known as the Amber Alert. She has rubbed shoulders with a number of leaders, from Navy SEALs to Laura Bush to Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security adviser.

Martínez came to the U.S. at age 5 and is a legal permanent resident. The 21-year-old plans to vote in the Mexican presidential elections. An application for U.S. citizenship can now be processed in three to four months, but she’s undecided about that step. She’d like to begin her career in Mexico.

“If the end goal is to say that I left the world a better place, isn’t it better to do it from the U.S.? And on the other hand in Mexico …”

Read the full story.

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