Institute for Mexicans Abroad
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According to Pew Research Center, in 2012 there were an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. Of those 11.2 million, some 52% or 5.85 million were Mexican. This is a consequence of the fact that the country Mexicans, overwhelmingly migrate to, whether legally or not, is the United States. Furthermore, because so many Mexican immigrants are undocumented, they are widely seen as a group to be stateless. The issue that this creates further determines an individual being considered, to a certain degree, invisible in both nation-states: in their country of origin as well as in their new country of residence. In another 2012 analysis, the Pew Research Center estimated that 33.7 million of U.S. Latinos were of Mexican origin. Due to the amount of people within the United States that consider themselves Mexican, or that come from Mexican origins, a disapora actually occurred disregarding being documented or undocumented.
In many cases, diasporas are seen as happening due to a drastic event that caused certain individuals to migrate to a new location. For Mexicans, there has not been any type of traumatic event for such diaspora, like in other cases, but nonetheless it is a diaspora due to the large number of individuals migrating from Mexico to the United States. This diaspora "has become a well-known economic resource for Mexico, as a result of the social and familia micronetworks that have allowed it to grow in a contravention of the U.S. Immigration and border control policies." This further expands immigrants to want to continue having a connection with their nation state, and a way to be involved, since, they are contributing to the economic growth regardless of the hardships they might face. Because more immigrants were becoming interested in staying involved with Mexico and the changes that were happening, it created the need for organizations such as the IME.
Both the United States and Mexico wanted to maintain control of the migrants, and such control eventually lead to multinational conflicts, which also affected not only migrants, but also those with ancestral origins to Mexico. This is due to the fact that identities of Mexican Americans have established this sort of connection and belonging with their ancestral lands. This does not necessarily mean they want to live in Mexico, or that they have lived in Mexico. It means that it is understood that their cultural origins derive from Mexico, which can add on to the multinational conflicts and the need to be involved both within the United States Policies and the Mexican Policies. This has led to multiple organizations being formed in order to establish the connection between nations.
For example, IME was a product of a few organizations that began a few years prior. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed, which gave Mexicans, and other immigrants, a few options. It allowed Mexicans the opportunity to apply for residency, where in many cases lead to easier travel between the United States and Mexico, but it also meant easier travel for undocumented people. Also, Mexico joined the General Agreement on tariffs and Trade, GATT, that connected Mexico and the United States through the economy in a much deeper matter; in an indirect way it meant new policies for migrants. Following these occurrences came programs that helped with the status of migrants in the United States.
First, in 1989, Program Paisano was established to protect migrants from getting abused by the U.S. government when entering the country. Then, In 1990, Programa para las Comunidades Mexicanas, PCME was introduced; a program that granted Mexican migrants a form of identification known as the matricula consular. For migrants that remained undocumented, Grupos Beta de Protección a Migrantes, also established in 1989, became a type of transnational police protecting migrants at the border. Programs such as these, before the IME, maintained Mexicans connected with their hometowns and states, and the government issues that they faced, along with providing some sort of protection within their selected country. This type of interaction between migrants and the Mexican policy encouraged migrants to become activist and make arrangements for there to be some form of leadership. The programs also focused on the social balance that is owed towards Mexican migrants by the United States.
Mexico had to view their policy issues with a new perspective due to migrants "...[pressuring] for change in Mexico's policies and politics - change that came to further modify state-diaspora relations." This then managed to get Mexico to support and urge the progress of the diaspora arrangements. Due to this, Mexican officials have stated that their deliberations have been thoroughly thought out regarding both national and international policy, which in return, there have been organizations that help migrants, and the reason IME eventually came to be. In order to take advantage of conditions happening bother in the United States and Mexico regarding politics and their people and migrants, "...the Mexican government took the important step of establishing a new institutional framework to promote ties between Mexicans on both sides of the border." Those new ideas of institutional framework, is what become to be known as IME and CC-IME.
The IME and CC-IME were formed in hopes that migrants represented Mexico's forty-five U.S. consular districts, and in the process of PCME's functions, as well as its workers, got immersed into the IME. IME began to be thought about and processes in 2002, and on April 16 of 2003 it was official along with CC-IME. The IME is a decentralized organization housed in the Foreign Ministry, which serves the community needs and advantages of Mexicans that are living and working outside of Mexico. This organization is meant to provide programs and services in health, education, educate in regards to the Mexican diaspora, and connections with clubs, to name a few. Mexicans abroad have access to the IME through the 50 Mexican Consulate offices in the United States, and 6 that are located in Canada.
The mission of IME is to promote strategies and programs, recognize proposals and recommendations of the communities' members, their organization, and advisory bodies in order to strengthen the diaspora. Furthermore, they are the building bride to promote a shared agenda of the long-term works in order for Mexican communities abroad to stay connected with their identity and pride. An example of such is the IME's Jornadas Informativas parallel program. Through this, the IME staff selects certain Mexican professionals or community leaders that reside in the United States, and transports them to Mexico D.F. for a two- to three-day program filled with activities. The goal is for the participants to make their contributions and state their thoughts about challenges that involve Mexico and the diaspora. After, they are expected to stay communicated with each other, the IME, and their local consulates. Through this, the IME is managing to create and expand relationships between Mexico, the consulate, and the migrant leaders. However, the area of communication can be predominantly seen though the CC-IME.
The CC-IME is what is considered the official diaspora's leadership. It has a "formal and institutionalized assembly of networks, with a fixed membership that is convened twice yearly and is divided into specialized committee." This is supposed to be the area where Mexican leaders can debate and look for a common agenda; its members get selected by migrants living in geographic districts, which are carelessly mapped, but are based on the division of the consulates in the U.S. It is made up of 128 council members that reside outside of Mexico. During its first term, the CC-IME divided itself into 6 committees in order to focus specifically on different policies. They are members for a three-year period and cannot be reelected. About two-thirds were born in Mexico and about one-third are Mexican-American. gender, in regards to nativity, is similar in the amount of who is part of the organization. They take in considerations of the ideas the public offers, and take those ideas into their meetings with the Mexican government. Ideas regarding policies, the diaspora, and managing how to gather resources in order to put into action the IME programs. This council became a natural meeting point between Mexican and Mexican-American leaders that were concerned with migrant issues.
Success and Challenges
There are some successful points that the IME and CC-IME have managed. Although the PCME managed to give a form of identification to migrants, through the IME, the identification became a formal accepted document within the United States. Now only was the matricula consular an accepted form of identification, but they pushed it to have an updated version that made them more secure, which also contributed to the acceptance of authorities within the United States. Another example of the IME's success is the recognition they contributed towards Latino leaders. Being recognized is an important issue regarding politics and the state where networking occurs, and working relationships flourish, which is to some extent, what the IME managed to do. This can lead to more benefits towards Mexicans, or the feelings that the hard work of the leaders participating in the IME is actually being noticed within the United States offices. However, they ave faced a few challenges as well.
Some of the challenges on how the IME worked were based on the actual members and how they saw and understood IME. One of the issues is that "in some consular jurisdictions, elections were controlled by local power groups that interfered in the election processes to prevent outsiders from being elected." Then, it is not clear if the leading members have enough knowledge, control, and strategy to create a common agenda, and strengthen the relationship between the group in order for their ideas and contributions to actually be considered and flow adequately. Furthermore, it is not fully clear what the process is to elect new members for the council that are trustworthy and not corrupt. Lastly, it is the idea that there will be different perspectives between native born Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans in the council regarding some of the policies, and it is not clear what will be the process to negotiate such differences. This is due to the idea that there has to be loyalty and to some extent a form of equality for the migrants, and some issues might not be understood with those that are not actual migrants themselves.
In regards to the CC-IME it is argued by critics that the council is just a way to have official meetings, but that they actually do not attain any power. That by participating in the CC-IME is a mockery and the members only belittle themselves because of the lack of power. However, one CC-IME representative, Joel Magallan, stated that it was not about actually creating change and having power. It was more-so the idea of being able to talk about such issues, stay connected, and in the run, possibly create political change; that the power they receive is to engage with communities outside of Mexico, and that this was exactly what was occurring. This demonstrates how CC-IME is exclusively focused on the diasporic institution. Furthermore, another issue that they faced was between genders already participants of the CC-IME. Although women were participants, there was insulting sexist behavior towards them in the first meeting. This led to the creation of the Code of Behavior, where there had to be respect for either gender. Although some males and females were against such code, others were not, and in the end all six commission coordinators agreed to implement it.
Lastly, an issue that seems to relate greatly to both the IME and the CC-IME are how their programs relate to the United States and Mexico. The attempts to consolidate and construct connections and identity between the diasporian communities in the United States and Mexico have different consequences for each country. This is due to the power that the United States hold over Mexico and their economy. "[T]he power from the Mexican diaspora in terms of political influence over the voting choices of their families still in Mexico has been slowly bleeding into Mexican politics." This is due to the fact that Mexican politicians have also campaigned within the United States in order to capture the attention of the migrants, knowing that their families back in Mexico would consider their opinions when voting. This issue was seen even before Mexican abroad had the right to vote.
Throughout the years that the CC-IME has been practiced, there have been recommendation suggested for the different challenges that they faced. The new goals for the CC-IME are to strengthen the opportunities for Mexicans abroad in the society that they are part of, yet maintaining connections with developments occurring in Mexico, specifically in their home communities. Linking and educating Mexicans abroad about what is ideal for them, and what might benefit them in regards to the developments in Mexican and the U.S. is also part of their status. They want to further connect with the educated and experienced Mexican professionals in order to explain to them the tactics the IME has regarding reaching out to Mexicans abroad. Furthermore, they want to reach a much bigger abroad audience and talk more about Mexico in order to make networking easier and create allies. Lastly, another change that they underwent in 2010 was in regards to women. There were several meetings held between the CC-IME and the Instituto de la Mujer in Mexico where there were suggestions for women's network to be formed through the CC-IME's member. The purpose of such ideas and networks were for the benefit of the migrant women and their families. It would be focused on issues such as: "domestic violence, self-esteem, stating in school, scholarships," and health related issues, to name a few.
Based on what the CC-IME wants to accomplish, they created an ideal schedule of what they expect would happen for the 2015 year. They prioritized whom they were going to invest more time in. It starts with the dreamers, the younger generations, business owners, those within the academic sphere, community leaders, and then women. Lastly, they had an ideal vision of how they wanted to summarize their meetings and what they were going to be talking about. They decided that they wanted to have fifty-six local councils, nine regional reunions, and various general meetings. In these meetings, they were to mention education and the need for financial aid, for all, but more so based on the dreamers and the younger generations of Mexicans. Then, they will also mention health, political and legal issues, culture and media, businesses, and the CC-IME that leave the post and are replaced with new members.
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