Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government’s Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States
Mexican consular officials safeguard and protect the interests of their nationals in the United States, performing many of the same functions as any other diplomatic staff in a foreign country. As an immigrant-sending country, Mexico also offers its nationals in the United States low-cost transfer rates for remittances and programs that match migrant investment in communities of origin dollar for dollar. In recent years, the Mexican government has moved beyond traditional notions of consular protection by establishing a broad institutional structure, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior or IME), to deliver an array of civic, health, education, and financial services to its migrants — 95 percent of whom live in the United States. The proximity and concentration of their diaspora allows Mexico to establish or coordinate programs geared towards helping Mexican migrants transition to life in the United States. By promoting services that seek to integrate its migrants in a receiving country, the Mexican government has taken on a task that has traditionally been the work of receiving-country institutions, not sending countries. IME’s work represents one of the most significant, if overlooked, factors in US immigrant integration policy. This report does not evaluate IME programs but rather seeks to detail its activities in a first-ever attempt to map the expanding array of IME programs within the United States.
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