LYNWOOD, Calif. -- Immigrants supporting Mexico's formerly long-ruling political party have opened a campaign office in the Los Angeles area for its 2012 presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto.
The office, opened Thursday at a Mexico-themed mall in this suburb, is an unofficial headquarters for the party in Southern California and represents a shift both for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and for the increasingly influential communities of Los Angeles-area immigrants from various regions of Mexico.
Officially the office is for a group calling itself the Committee of Migrants United for Mexico. Leaders said they would be phone-banking with their relatives back home to encourage them to vote for the PRI.
"We opened this office so that any migrant who has a proposal [can] pass it to us, and we pass it" to the presidential candidate, said Roman Cabral, a former migrant-abroad state legislator from Zacatecas state.
"We will have direct communication with Mexico City," he said.
Photographs of Peña Nieto adorn the walls of the mostly bare new office, where tortas and pan de dulce were served for participants and journalists, a party custom.
And just like back in Mexico, the PRI activists wore the party's bright red campaign color and spoke glowingly about Peña Nieto -- who is leading in polls -- and what they described as the party's "regenerated" identity.