Snapshot: US Consulate General Cd. Juarez

El Paso & Ciudad Juárez from Scenic DriveImage by charlie llewellin via Flickr
The shootings involving staff/family members from the US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez made me dig up the 2009 OIG report on US Mission Mexico. Below is part of what the report said about Ciudad Juarez:  

The consular section in Ciudad Juarez is the largest in the world with 50 consular officers, six EFMs, and 116 LE staff, yet its staffing is still too small for the workload (see the section of this report on IVs for a complete discussion). Despite workload pressures, the consular section is doing a remarkable job under excellent leadership. The consular section chief and IV unit chief work effectively as a team to manage the massive challenges facing the IV unit. However, the other parts of the consular section are also under stress. NIV work increased 31.4 percent to 121,010 cases in FY 2008.

The NIV unit copes with this increase with the help of a steady stream of TDY ELOs from other posts in Mexico.

This NIV workload increase was not surprising because Ciudad Juarez was the first post in Mexico to start issuing an improved version of the BCC on April 1, 1998, and therefore the first post to experience a surge from the 10-year replacement program. The workload rose dramatically in 1999 (to 308,370 cases) and peaked in 2001 (at 411,743 cases). This means Ciudad Juarez is likely to be hit by a huge increase in NIV work in the next three years. In addition, analysis shows that much of the Ciudad Juarez FY 2008 NIV workload increase is, in fact, coming from first time applicants, and this means that NIV levels after the BCC renewal surge ends are likely to remain higher than previously thought, requiring additional permanent resources.
Immediately following the visit by the OIG team to Ciudad Juarez, the consulate staff moved into a new OBO-built facility. This vast facility — with 87 visa interview windows — gives the staff the capability to handle the huge numbers of consular visitors and provides for future growth.
The consulate general in Ciudad Juarez processes all IVs for Mission Mexico, and in FY 2008 it handled 149,014 applications, 19 percent of all IVs worldwide. The workload was greater than that of the next three largest IV operations in Santo Domingo, Manila, and Ho Chi Minh City combined. IV workload has fluctuated greatly in the last 10 years in Ciudad Juarez, but recently increased dramatically. The Department will need to increase significantly officer and LE staffing in Ciudad Juarez to rightsize the operations.

Here is a nugget from the report that you may or may not know:

US Mission Mexico, consisting of an embassy, seven consulates general, two consulates, and 14 consular agencies, is one of the largest U.S. missions in the world. The magnitude of the consular operation is staggering: 20 percent of all arrests of Americans abroad occur in a single consular district in Tijuana. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez processes more IVs than any other post in the world. Embassy Mexico City processes more NIVs than any other post in the world except Embassy Seoul.

Because of the consular workload, 10 percent of all entry-level officers (ELO) in the U.S. Foreign Service are assigned to Mexican posts. With such numbers, Mexican experience will have an important influence on the next generation of Foreign Service officers.