Mexico is mounting an unprecedented effort to turn its permanent residents in the U.S. into citizens, a status that would enable them to vote -- presumably against Donald Trump.
Officially, Mexico says it respects U.S. sovereignty and has no strategy to influence the result of the presidential race. Yet Mexican diplomats are mobilizing for the first time to assist immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship, hosting free workshops on naturalization.
"This is a historic moment where the Mexican consulate will open its doors to carry out these types of events in favor of the Mexican community," Adrian Sosa, a spokesman for the consulate in Chicago, said before an event on March 19. In Dallas, about 250 permanent residents attended the consulate's first "citizenship clinic" in February and another 150 in its second in March. In Las Vegas, the turnout topped 500.
Underscoring the fine line that separates participation from interfering in another country's election, Sosa noted that the consulate only hosts the event but it's community organizations who offer the advice.
Mexico may have the most at stake but it's not alone among U.S. allies bewildered by -- and worried about -- the reality-television star's success in the Republican primaries. Trump, who launched his campaign with invective directed at Mexico and a promise to build a border wall (with a "big beautiful door"), identified himself last week as his own top foreign-policy adviser.
"I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things," Trump said on MSNBC when asked who he speaks with consistently on foreign policy. "My primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff."
With even senior U.S. Republicans, such as 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, pledging to contest Trump's nomination to the end, views from other major capitals comprise both concern and calm. An official close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who asked not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly said a Trump presidency would be a risk for the global economy and security. Trump has targeted Japan, along with Mexico and China, as nations where the U.S. is "getting absolutely crushed on trade."
The government in China still believes it's too early to focus on Trump given that he hasn't yet won the Republican nomination, according to a Foreign Ministry official who asked not to be named. The sentiment is shared in France, where President Francois Hollande's administration says that the U.S. election takes a backseat to addressing migrant crisis, the war in Syria and terrorism threats.
Right to Vote
Joel Diaz doesn't want to wait to see how it all turns out. The Mexican-American, who has been a permanent resident of the U.S. for six years, arrived at the Mexican consulate in Chicago on Saturday with his wife and four adult sons to register all of them as U.S. citizens in order to vote against Trump.