SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Officials and supporters celebrated the grand opening of the El Salvador Consulate on Monday in Springdale.
The consulate provides administrative services to Salvadoran nationals, important for ID documents.
Jessica Aguilar-Hiett, the director of Salvadorenos Unidos Para Arkansas, said that the work to bring a consulate to Northwest Arkansas started with her mother. SUPA founder Paz Aguilar noticed that the closest consulate was in Dallas which presented more issues for NWA Salvadorans.
“Like any typical Latino mother, she said, 'hey write a letter to the president. I want you to tell him that we need this here to help our people, it’ll help everybody all around,'" said Hiett. "I was like, 'Mom, the president isn’t going to read our letter.' Who are we, right?”
The Consulate becomes the state's consulate in Northwest Arkansas, according to Aguilar-Hiett. She explained that Consulates usually are placed in state capital cities, but the larger Salvadoran population brought theirs to Springdale.
Aguilar-Hiett explained how bringing the consulate to NWA was a great achievement for Salvadorans. According to Aguilar-Hiett, anyone looking to update their passport or documents would have to travel to Dallas prior to Monday's opening. This would present issues as Aguilar-Hiett said many would pay for a ride to the closest consulate.
“A lot of time these people are paying two times what they make in a semimonthly period," said Aguilar-Hiett. "Sometimes they were paying what they make in an entire month for somebody to take them to do the service and they couldn’t get it done.”
Aguilar-Hiett explained that some without prior knowledge would be turned down when an appointment wasn't already scheduled. She also explained some would request off at work to make the trip. Now, with the opening of the consulate, she said they could simply stop by on their lunch break.
The consulate will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., located at 3875 W. Sunset Ave. in Springdale. Aguilar-Hiett said the consulate would be all-inclusive but would have some services only provided to El Salvador nationals.
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