Tucson is one of 50 cities in the country with a Mexican consul, or representative from the Mexican government stationed in the city, and the new Mexican consul in Tucson is working on fostering cross-border economic development alongside local officials with similar goals.
Ricardo Pineda started the job in June, after moving from Idaho, where he opened a consular office that served Idaho, Montana, northern Nevada and eastern Oregon. His primary responsibility is to be the Mexican government's representative, he said.
"We are here to provide services and also advocate for the Mexican community," he said. Pineda's office also provides services to U.S. residents who have business with the Mexican government.
One major focus, beyond helping with governmental needs, is economic development, he said. He is working with officials in the U.S. and Mexico to help build business connections across the international border.
"Everything has to do with ways and means to foster our trade and very important commercial relations between Sonora and Tucson," he said. "Trade in between both regions is very important and is feeding and growing business opportunities between Tucson and Sonora as a whole."
Some of the challenges with trade include bringing business people together and explaining cross-border opportunities to both sides, he said.
Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has put introduced reforms to foster economic growth.
"Now we have a great time and occasion to do this. Mexico has been involved," he said.
The consul's office also provides migration paperwork help for Mexican residents, Pineda said.
"Everything that has to do with Mexican paperwork for Mexicans, we do that," he said.
The Mexican government is providing information for Mexicans living in the U.S. about immigration reform proposals. Other than information, though, the Mexican government is not taking a formal position on potential immigration policy changes.
"It's very important debate and very important process that Mexico respects and acknowledges," Pineda said. "As a government we totally respect that process."