Luis Miguel Ortiz Haro goes beyond his official duties to aid those in distress.
Jennifer Mena, L. A. Times, Mar. 7
The woman was having a routine conversation with Mexican Consul Luis Miguel Ortiz Haro about her need for an identification card when she broke down in tears.
Ignoring the commotion of his Santa Ana office — the phones, the bustling aides, the dozens of people waiting to see him — Ortiz Haro listened intently as she explained that she was anguished over an entirely different issue: She had paid $180 for a list of low-rent apartments, only to discover they didn’t exist.
This past week, Ortiz Haro found seven other victims of the scam and is getting the group an attorney. He is also trying to get authorities to look for an American baby believed kidnapped in Mexico, arrange for the release of a 12-year-old Mexican boy from Orange County juvenile hall and collect money for a 24-year-old woman whose 5-year-old son was killed by a car in La Habra.
It was, for the gregarious and affable Ortiz Haro, all in a week’s work as his government’s chief diplomat in Orange County — a consul like no other.
His job is to deal with such parochial issues as issuing passports and attending official functions. But Ortiz Haro, say those who watch him at work, is more the passionate godfather than starchy bureaucrat — a man more likely to lace his conversations with slang than legalese to break the ice with his mostly working-class visitors.
Not long after she arrived in Orange County to try to overturn or reduce her son’s sentence to prison on a concealed weapons charge, Eloisa Arreguin turned to Ortiz Haro for help.
And she found the consul was everything others had said — informal, charming and quickly willing to call people in high places to get things done.
Ortiz Haro arranged for her to receive legal advice, spent hours reviewing her son’s court case and, because the seamstress needed money, enlisted others to join him in purchasing tablecloths and clothes she had sewn.
The outpouring of help left Arreguin stunned.
“I didn’t think there was anything anyone could do for someone like me,” she told Ortiz Haro. “I overstayed my visa and I’m illegal.”
“Illegal, ni madres,” exclaimed the consul, using colloquial Spanish to say that no matter what the woman’s legal status, she deserved respect.
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