The Mexican Government and Organised Mexican Immigrants in the United States: A Historical Analysis of Political Transnationalism, 1848-2005 (Working Paper #148)

Gustavo Cano, Mexico-North Research Network, Washington D.C. and Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego

Alexandra Delano, Oxford University

Abstract: This paper addresses the relationship between the Mexican government and the organised Mexican immigrant community in the US from a historical perspective and within a framework of transnational politics. We argue that transnational relations between the Mexican government and Mexican immigrants in the US are not new; however, the characteristics of these connections have varied across time depending on the evolution and characteristics of migrant organizations, political and economic circumstances in Mexico and foreign policy considerations involving US-Mexico relations. The historical links between the government and the Mexican population abroad have influenced the development of current organisations of Mexican immigrants in the US as well as the recent creation and development of the Mexican government’s institutions to manage this relationship.

In recent years, we identify a change in Mexico’s traditional approach to migration issues in the bilateral agenda, as well as a shift in the relationship between the Mexican immigrant communities and the government. The process of institutionalisation of this new relation began with the Program for Mexican Communities Abroad (PCME or Comunidades) in 1990, and was strongly consolidated in 2003 with the creation of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME). We argue that the IME is the first transnational institution dealing with these issues and we explore some of the challenges it faces in order to achieve its objectives and exert a positive influence for Mexican migrants in the US.

In the first part of this paper we discuss the value of using a historical perspective for the study of transnational politics. The second part offers a historical account of the development of transnational relations between the Mexican government and the organised Mexican immigrant community from 1848 to 2005. In the third part we analyse the challenges faced by the IME as a transnational institution.

Working Paper #148 »