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Mexican Consulate Makes Itself At Home In Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. — According to the 2000 census, the Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States. With over 400,000 Latinos in the Triangle,the Mexican and U.S. governments established a consulate in Raleigh.

Services of the consulate are helping Mexicans make the adjustment to American life.

By midmorning, every parking space is taken, every seat filled.The constant flow of traffic into the consulate office in Raleigh keeps the two women behind the counter working at a frantic pace.

"We provide different kinds of consular services for them, like passports and Mexican ID cards, military ID cards, power of attorney. I perform marriages and I register children who are born here in North Carolina or South Carolina," said Mexican Consul Carolina Zaragoza Flores.

Sixty percent of all Latinos in North Carolina are Mexican.Latino advocates said the Office of the Mexican Consul is long overdue.

"The consulate from Mexico is helping to create more than awareness of the presence of the Mexican people or people of Mexican origin in North Carolina. Most importantly, the contributions to the economy," said Marcos Zarate of the N.C. Associations of Hispanic Professionals.

Many Mexicans who make the trip to the United States end up working in agriculture, construction and the hotel industry.

One of the key issues that the Mexican consul is looking into is that of worker safety. Representatives are hoping to translate safety guidelines for Mexican employees.

The Mexican Consulate, which has been open since November, held its official grand opening last week. It is located on east Six Forks Road.

"When you come to this particular office, you are in Mexico because this is Mexican territory," Flores said. "So you are going to be more than welcome."