FORT WORTH—A Fort Worth congregation opened its doors to the Mexican Consulate to help Mexican citizens in North Texas obtain proper identification to avoid legal problems.
Azle Avenue Baptist Church made its facilities available to the Dallas-based Mexican Consulate General and its “consulate-on-wheels” service, to enable Fort Worth-area Mexican citizens obtain birth certificates, consular identification cards and passports.
“People need to have a valid form of identification in case they have any interaction with police officers,” said Fernando Rojas, pastor of Azle Avenue Baptist Church. He noted the church offered the service in response to SB4, the so-called “show me your papers” law, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed one year ago.
“Having an ID could be the difference between receiving a ticket, or a warning and being sent to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Rojas explained.
The consulate is located 35 miles west of Azle Avenue Baptist, on the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Rafael Solis, director of the church’s Vida Nueva Immigration Service and the congregation’s former pastor, recognized working people would have difficulty taking time away from their jobs to make the drive to the Dallas consulate office.
So, he contacted the Mexican Consulate to see what services could be offered in Fort Worth, and he learned about the “consulate-on-wheels” program that serves communities within 70 miles of the consulate office.
Azle Avenue Baptist subsequently invited the “consulate-on-wheels” program to its facility, and the program began taking appointments April 19. Within two days, more than 700 people had scheduled a time to process their documents.
“We want to impact our community and extend out our arms, like the arms of Christ,” Solis said.
Azle Avenue church members volunteered to assist visitors with parking, organizing waiting lines, and guiding people where they needed to go. The church also provided food and drinks for the consulate staff.
“A church must be generous with its time and its building,” Rojas said. “We want our guests to feel comfortable here.”
Azle Avenue wants to serve its neighbors and to let the surround community know it cares, Rojas said.
“People have needs, and God has given us the opportunity to respond to those needs,” he said. “We believe God loves our community, and we, then, must show that love.”