This week, Arizona 360 returned to the border, a topic poised to receive increased attention as the 2020 campaign season ramps up. A number of United States citizens can vote from Mexico, where the U.S. Department of State estimates more than a million U.S. citizens live. To understand more about how the U.S. aids its citizens abroad, Lorraine Rivera traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Nogales, Sonora, where she sat down with Consul General Virginia Staab.
“We have basically three priorities,” Staab said. “First and foremost is always the safety and security of American citizens that are either living here or visiting here. Our second priority is really to increase security for both countries, for both the United States and Mexico. And then third is to streamline trade.”
Recent months have seen worrying incidents, including the discovery of a mass grave on the outskirts of Rocky Point and the murders of nine family members who belonged to a Mormon community with dual citizenship in northeastern Sonora.
“We have been in very close contact with the family. We helped them immediately afterwards, and we continue to provide services to them,” Staab said. “It was a real tragedy for both Mexico and the United States.”
In Sonora, the consulate has also taken steps to help advance the lives of its residents in Nogales, regardless of their nationalities. Last year it partnered with the University of Arizona for a program aimed at developing more female entrepreneurs in the city. At her previous post in Guatemala, Staab also led the department’s efforts to deter children from getting involved with gangs.
“The State Department has always focused on building the next generation and really investing in other countries so that it alleviates some of the problems that are in the United States. For example, if we’re able to empower youth in Guatemala and we’re able to keep them out of gangs and make sure they are future generations for their own country, they might be less incentivized to come to the United States to look for a future there,” Staab said.