Calls have been pouring into the Mexican consul general's office in Salt Lake City ever since Mexico amended its constitution to offer Mexican nationality to many people who are citizens of another country.
"This will change political feelings. Mexicans are very patriotic," said Anacelia Perez de Meyer, the consul general.The Mexican government last week ratified an initiative by President Ernesto Zedillo to reform the constitution and allow many people who are citizens elsewhere to hold dual nationality by reclaiming their Mexican nationality.
The change applies to people born in Mexico, those born to at least one Mexican parent. It also applies to their children.
It has no effect on Mexicans who enter the United States illegally.
Estimates are that there are millions of Mexicans living abroad in the United States and other countries.
In Mexico, "nationality" is different from "citizenship," which requires an address in that country and confers a number of legal rights permitting the individual to do such things as vote and hold public office.
In many respects, reclaiming one's Mexican nationality is more of a symbolic act but it is important for many reasons for those living outside Mexico, Perez de Meyer said.
"It gives them a sense of identity that they have lost. They can say, `I know where I come from, I know who I am,' " she said.
Many Mexicans who have become naturalized U.S. citizens are caught between two countries and two cultures. This will give them a chance to strengthen their ties with their homeland, its traditions and its values.
By reclaiming their Mexican nationality without renouncing their citizenship in another country, these individuals will not be treated as foreigners in Mexico, will be free to travel and live in Mexico when they wish without dealing with complicated formalities, and they will be able to buy land in certain areas.
It also is a boon for young people, Perez de Meyer said. Previously, many children could claim Mexican nationality while being citizens of another country until age 18. At that point, they had to choose one country and renounce their affiliation with the other.
With this new amendment, they won't have to make that choice.
Those wanting more information should call the Mexican Consulate at (801) 521-8502.