After only two months in operation, the El Salvadoran Consulate General in Duluth is already serving its 35,000 countrymen in Georgia and is ready to form partnerships with other local consulates and chambers of commerce, Consul General Lucas Aguilar told GlobalAtlanta.
The new consulate general opened on Feb. 18 at 3505 Duluth Park Lane, Suite 320, Duluth, GA 30096.
Mr. Aguilar said that his office plans to work with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce to create an El Salvadoran chamber of commerce here.
He added that he is learning about El Salvadoran businesses in Georgia and is already working with the local mayor, police force and court system to ensure good relationships among those entities and El Salvadoran residents.
“We are a small government whose goal is to serve our people here,” Mr. Aguilar said. “If we don’t help, who will?” he added, referring to the need for passport renewal and other consular services for some 100,000 El Salvadoran nationals living in his jurisdiction of Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.
The new office has already processed 650 passports, set up pensions, authorized work visas and registered births, deaths and marriages of El Salvadorans in the region, he said. An important service the office is providing is the processing of “TPS” documents, or temporary protected status, for El Salvadoran nationals who fled their country following devastating hurricanes in 2001. They must re-register with the consulate for an 18-month extension of TPS that was initiated in January.
“We have done more in two months with our five staff than what many El Salvadoran consulates do in 20 years in the U.S.,” he said.
The Duluth office is running so well, he added, that it serves as a model on which his government is basing the opening of four other new consulates in the U.S. in California, New Jersey, New Mexico and Virginia. The Nogales, N.M., office is to open next week, he said, largely to serve El Salvadorans coming across the Mexican border and in response to recent militia action on behalf of U.S. citizens patrolling the border.
Mr. Aguilar noted that many El Salvadorans are coming to Georgia from California and other states because job opportunities are more abundant and they find it easier to buy homes here. El Salvadorans send some $1.5 million in remittances to family members in their home country each year, he added.
Mr. Aguilar is scheduled to serve as consul general in Duluth until 2009 when the current El Salvadoran president Elias Saca’s term ends. Mr. Aguilar most recently served as consul general in Chiapas, Mexico, from 2003 until this year. Previously he was consul general in Chicago from 1990-03 and vice consul in Los Angeles from 1985-90.
Contact Mr. Aguilar at (770) 623-8858 or firstname.lastname@example.org