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A Nation of Emigrants

A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration

David Fitzgerald
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    A Nation of Emigrants
    Book Description:

    What do governments do when much of their population simply gets up and walks away? In Mexico and other migrant-sending countries, mass emigration prompts governments to negotiate a new social contract with their citizens abroad. After decades of failed efforts to control outflow, the Mexican state now emphasizes voluntary ties, dual nationality, and rights over obligations. In this groundbreaking book, David Fitzgerald examines a region of Mexico whose citizens have been migrating to the United States for more than a century. He finds that emigrant citizenship does not signal the decline of the nation-state but does lead to a new form of citizenship, and that bureaucratic efforts to manage emigration and its effects are based on the membership model of the Catholic Church.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94247-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Map of Jalisco, Mexico
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In January 1954, armed Mexican police clashed with thousands of rioting Mexican workers trying to enter California at Calexico. A news photographer focused his lens on a man in a sombrero straddling the borderline. As the migrant′s friends tugged him north, Mexican police tried to drag him back into Mexico.¹ Negotiations between Washington and Mexico City had collapsed in the latest round of the bracero accords, which since World War II had provided for the legal importation of hundreds of thousands of contracted workers to fill labor shortages in U.S. agriculture. An even larger number of illegal migrants followed the...

  7. ONE The Politics of Absence
    (pp. 15-35)

    One of the most critical issues in contemporary politics is whether the nation-state—the organizational fusion of a territory, a government, and a people—can control the forces of globalization that threaten to overwhelm it. Nowhere is this question more important than in the study of international migration. This chapter places Mexico′s handling of emigration in the context of broader historical debates around the world about the effects of globalization on each country′s ability to shape its political life. Although the contemporary system of nation-states is often taken for granted as the normal way of organizing politics, that system is...

  8. TWO Inside the Sending State
    (pp. 36-69)

    At a Fourth of July party held at the U.S. consul′s house in Guadalajara, several U.S. Foreign Service officers who decide whether to issue Mexicans visas asked me about my research. ″Mexico′s emigration policy?″ one laughed incredulously. ″They don′t have one!″ The officer′s perception is common in both countries. Yet the Mexican government has always had an emigration policy. Almost forgotten today is that Mexico City generally tried to restrict emigration to the United States prior to World War II and select particular kinds of workers to participate in the 1942–64 bracero program. Its laissez-faire attitude toward emigration in...

  9. THREE The Church’s Eye on Its Flock
    (pp. 70-102)

    Since the mid-1990s, stories have spread throughout central west Mexico of the ″coyote saint″ who helps migrants cross the U.S. border illegally. In one version, three migrants stranded in a frontier desert are saved by a man dressed in black who appears out of nowhere to offer them a ride in his pickup. When the migrants later visit their rescuer′s home village of Santa Ana, Jalisco, to thank him, they find a photograph of Father Toribio Romo in the chapel where his bones have been kept since he was killed by government troops in 1928 during the Cristero War. The...

  10. FOUR Colonies of the Little Motherland
    (pp. 103-124)

    Once a year, migrants gather in hotel ballrooms in Los Angeles and Chicago to raise money for their hometowns in Mexico and to select a queen who will represent the local ″colony″ of paisanos. Mexican mayors, consular officials, and even governors mingle with migrants in dark suits to discuss whether to spend the money to pave roads, open small factories, or renovate churches. Club Arandas is typical of the estimated three thousand Mexican hometown associations in the United States. Its unassuming leader, Joaquín, migrated to Orange County without papers in 1974 to pick strawberries.¹ Now the owner of eight local...

  11. FIVE The Stranger or the Prodigal Son?
    (pp. 125-152)

    When migrants return from the North laden with gifts for the annual patron saint fiesta, the municipal government receives them under a banner reading ″Welcome, Hijos Ausentes.″ Families reunite and dollars crackle through the local economy. Yet many residents, and even many migrants, resent the cultural changes that migrants bring back with them. A 1991 cartoon in a weekly newspaper expressed a common ambivalence towardnorteños, the migrants with extensive experience in the United States. ″January is here, it′s fiesta … and our norteños,″ reads the headline over a bird′s-eye view of Arandas and a skull and crossbones on a...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 153-180)

    Stakeholders in the heated debates about immigration to the United States rarely pay much attention to Mexico′s policy toward emigration and emigrants. Conservatives who want to restrict immigration are the most likely exceptions to this rule. The former Republican presidential candidate and pundit Patrick Buchanan summarizes the restrictionist take on Mexico′s policies, which he calls ″the Aztlan Strategy″: ″This then is the Aztlan Strategy: endless migration from Mexico north, the Hispanicization of the American Southwest, and dual citizenship for all Mexican-Americans. The goals: Erase the border. Grow the influence, through Mexican-Americans, over how America disposes of her wealth and power....

  13. APPENDIX: Survey Methodology
    (pp. 181-184)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 185-204)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-234)
  16. Index
    (pp. 235-243)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 244-244)