The Midday Rotary of San Miguel was honored to host the U.S. Consul General, Scott Renner and our local U.S. Consular Agent, Erika Montes, for a "Meet and Greet" social hour and Q&A session on Thursday night.
Among the services consulates provide for their citizens are passport renewals, birth certificates, and visa issuances. They also ensure Americans get their Social Security/disability benefits while abroad, visit with the 1,000+ Americans being held in Mexican prisons, and work to recover abducted children. Renner has worked for the United States in a slew of countries including Nigeria, Chile, Poland, Bogota, Haiti, and Toronto. He helped Americans leave China when Covid was starting, then helped them leave Afghanistan when America pulled their troops out. Needless to say, he’s got a lot of stories!
When pressed for the one thing he’d like Americans to know, he said, “Passports and visas need not approach their expiration date before you renew them.” Since Covid, the backlogs have been long, and he suggests starting the process as far as two years before the expiration date. If an emergency passport is needed, by far the fastest way to obtain one is in person in Mexico City.
Renner said that firearm possession is the #2 reason Americans get incarcerated (drugs is #1) and reminds us that it’s our responsibility to be aware of local laws. The consulate does not get you out of jail. Instead, they do their best to get you your prescriptions while you’re behind bars. He suggests registering with the consulate, which can be done through their website. By registering, you’re letting them know to look for you in the event of a natural disaster. It also facilitates their contacting you if, for example, an American family member is having trouble making contact.
Part of the consulate’s job is protecting you from scams. So, if you get an email that looks suspect, call them up and ask if it’s legitimate. If it is legitimate, you’ll be glad you called! The embassy is manned 24/7/365, so “If you call, someone’s going to pick up.”