Until now, Mexico has required citizens to get birth certificates at government offices in Mexico. Many of those living in the U.S. ask friends and relatives back home to retrieve them, which can delay their applications for immigration or other programs.
Now, even as Republicans in Congress try to quash President Barack Obama's reprieve to millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S., Mexico is trying to help them apply for programs that would allow them to remain temporarily in the country and continue sending money back to relatives across the border.
"It is a huge help. It helps individuals really begin to formulate their formal identity in this country," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
About half of the 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally are from Mexico, and immigration experts estimate that roughly 3 million Mexicans could be eligible to apply for work permits and protection from deportation under the administration's plan.
About two weeks ago, California — which is home to more Mexicans than any other state — began issuing driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally.
On Thursday, the country's 50 consulates in the United States were able to access datamaintained by regional governments in Mexico and print birth certificates at the consulates, said Arturo Sanchez, consul for press and commercial affairs in Santa Ana, California.
"That means that they will not have to travel abroad. They will not have to hire anybody to provide the birth certificate for them. They will be able to print them here at the consulate and use it for official purposes," Jose Antonio Meade, Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs, said.