THE INSTITUTE OF MEXICANS ABROAD: THE DAY AFTER… AFTER 156 YEARS
This paper addresses the relationship between the Mexican government and the organized Mexican immigrant community in the United States 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 United States are not new; however, these relations vary across time depending on political and economic circumstances that involve U.S.-Mexico relations. These historical links have provided the basis for the existence of current organizations of Mexican immigrants in the United States 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 institutionalization of this new relation began with the Program for Mexican Communities Abroad (PCME, in Spanish) in 1990, and was strongly consolidated in 2003 with the creation of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME, in Spanish). We argue that the IME is the first Mexican governmental transnational institution in the history of relations between the Mexican government and the Mexican community in the United States. As such, we explore some of the challenges it faces in order to achieve its objectives and exert influence in American ethnic politics.
In the first part of the paper we present a theoretical overview about the historical perspective of transnational politics. The second part offers a historical account of the development of the transnational relations between the Mexican government and the organized Mexican immigrant community in the last 156 years. In the third part, we analyze the challenges faced by the IME and its potential influence in American ethnic politics. Finally, we conclude with a section of remarks from both theoretical and empirical standpoints.