Researchers from a Washington think tank and the University of Hawaii at Manoa are recommending that Mexico’s government open a permanent consulate in Hawaii to serve a small but growing population.
The Migration Policy Institute and the university included the recommendation in a study presented Monday that said people of Mexican origins in Hawaii have different experiences on the islands than in other U.S. states.
The study says people of Mexican origin make up about 3 percent of Hawaii’s overall population, with 38,700 people. That includes people born in Mexico and people born in the United States of Mexican descent. Researchers say that number has more than doubled since 1990, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The biggest jump in the past decade has been on the Big Island, where the population of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans has grown 85 percent since 2000, to 6,600 people, the study said. The study said 24,900 people of Mexican origin live on Oahu, while 7,200 combined live on Maui, Kauai, Molokai and other smaller islands.
The study says a permanent consulate would make it easier for Mexican nationals to access services and act as an intermediary between the Mexican community and state and federal government.
It also recommends that Hawaii lawmakers and U.S. agencies begin to plan services for children and older people of Mexican origin to help those with limited English.
About 90 percent of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living in Hawaii are U.S. citizens, the study said. But the study said about 4,000 of 5,500 Mexican immigrants living in the state were in the U.S. without legal permission.
The study was funded by the Mexican government, through its Secretary of Foreign Affairs.