Mexican Consulate brings ID services to Wisconsin

File photo.

APPLETON (AP) - Wisconsin officials are working to better serve the rapidly growing Hispanic community in the state, with a little help from the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.

A mobile version of the Chicago-based office issued passports and consular identification cards to hundreds of Mexican nationals at an Appleton church last week, Post-Crescent Media reported. About 800 people took advantage of the services at First English Lutheran Church from last Wednesday to Saturday, according to Alfredo Gomez Sepulveda, a coordinator of the consulate's mobile program.

About once a month, the mobile office visits a Wisconsin city to renew Mexican passports and consular identification cards, saving thousands of people from having to take a trip to Chicago. The consulate has served more than 9,900 Mexican nationals so far in 2014 by offering services in Appleton, Beloit, Green Bay, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha, according to Sepulveda.

"It's more than a three-hour trip to Chicago and the passport is the primary form of ID. So it's a service that the Chicago consulate provides ... to attend to Mexican nationals over here," Sepulveda said.

The consulate also serves Mexican nationals living in northern Illinois and Indiana.

Gov. Scott Walker met with Mexican Undersecretary Sergio Alcocer on Friday to discuss opening a consulate in Milwaukee.

"It was a positive meeting and we'll continue to work with them collaboratively as we move forward with the process," said Laurel Patrick, the governor's press secretary.

In a letter to the president of Mexico last year, Walker used the mobile program to illustrate the state's need for a permanent site.

"This mobile service is greatly appreciated, but the fact that the consulate in Chicago has recognized the growing demand for their services and has developed a mobile consulate demonstrates the need for another consulate in the Midwest," Walker told President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Sepulveda said negotiations for a permanent office in Wisconsin have begun and more details may emerge next year.

"It's a process that's very advanced and there might be more concrete news for 2015, when there's a very good chance that the Mexican consulate for Wisconsin will be opening in 2015, but that's still in process," he said.

More than 6 percent of Wisconsin's population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2013.