Seattle’s Mexican Consulate will set up a mobile office in Brewster this fall to help reissue lost documentation to orchard workers whose homes burned in the Carlton Complex wildfires.
In the early hours of July 18, fire burned through King Blossom Natural Orchard, on the outskirts of Brewster, catching the sleeping laborers off guard. They escaped without injury, but the flames destroyed two buildings on the farm grounds that were home to 50 people. Many lost nearly everything they owned, including passports, birth certificates and identification cards.
Consul Eduardo Baca said he’s never dealt with so many people losing their documentation at the same time.
“We’re going to do a special outing just to take care of this group that has been in this terrible circumstance,” said Baca.
The consulate found out about the displaced orchard workers by reading about them in The Seattle Times and receiving letters from concerned community members, said Baca. After reaching out to the workers, the Consulate learned that 20 on the farm lost documentation.
Getting new copies of these official documents isn’t easy. In order to obtain birth certificates, for example, applicants must appeal to the civil registries in their birth states. There are foreign ministry offices in each state, so the consulate can simplify the process, said Baca.
Since many workers don’t have the time or means to travel to Seattle, the consulate decided to come to them. The consulate is working on getting the paperwork now, and it will set up a temporary office in the Brewster area to issue the documents. Baca said he expects this to happen in October, as many migrant workers at the farm will be leaving at the end of the apple harvest season.
He urged any other Mexican workers in the area who lost documents in the fire to call or email the consulate at: 206-448-3526 or firstname.lastname@example.org so it can help them, too.