A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration

A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration

A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration

A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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. 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 braceros north. With an abundant supply of unauthorized labor, the U.S. government had little incentive to improve braceros’ low wages and poor working conditions. Aware of their weak bargaining position, Mexican officials tried to squeeze the supply of both legal and illegal migrants by sealing their . . .

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