As Austin’s Consul General of Mexico, Carlos González Gutiérrez, brought change to the consulate. Now, during his last week on the job, González Gutiérrez looks back on the support his team provided for Mexican nationals living in Central Texas.
González Gutiérrez says part of his “traditional job” was providing necessities like passports, birth certificates, and identification for Mexican nationals. The other part was showing up for his community.
“It’s also our job to be very visible in the community and mobilize the community for its own good,” he says.
During his time in Austin, González Gutiérrez says his consul role became somewhat controversial.
“There were different instances during these four years in which we had to step up to the plate and raise our voice on behalf of people that, it’s not easy for them to defend themselves,” González Gutiérrez says. “Undocumented immigrants are, to a great extent, invisible in the U.S., in general, and in Texas, in particular.”
González Gutiérrez was in Austin for three legislative sessions. He says the first session was a learning experience, and the second was much more about “cultural wars,” as he put it. Things like the so-called bathroom bill and sanctuary cities legislation got most of the attention. But he says the recent session was different.
“Now, fortunately, Texas, the pendulum is moving again towards a more pragmatic approach of different issues, including immigration,” González Gutiérrez says. “Texas, historically, has assumed a more pragmatical approach to it.”
He says for the most part, Texas has a tradition of treating Mexicans and Mexican immigrants respectfully, especially because of how close Texan and Mexican cultures are.
“You could be as conservative as you want, but never do Mexico bashing, or never do immigrant bashing,” he says. “We’re so interconnected.”
An example of that, he says, is that half of all schoolchildren in Texas are of Latino origin – mostly Mexican, he says.
Now, González Gutiérrez is moving to continue his work in California.
“It’s the challenge and the privilege of a life of constant change,” he says.
Written by Chloe Bennett.