Mexican program to support its citizens in U.S.

The Migration Policy Institute reports that a new program by the Mexican government to support its citizens residing in the U.S. “represents one of the most significant, if overlooked, factors in US immigrant integration policy” today. As one third of all immigrants in the U.S. are Mexican, this initiative may well serve as a model for other countries with large numbers of citizens residing here.
The program even provides medical care to illegal immigrants.
The January 2010 report’s title is “Protection through Integration: The Mexican Government’s Efforts to Aid Migrants in the United States”
The report’s executive summary (further below in full): says:
“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.”
Also,
“While evaluations of IME’s programs remain scarce, its projects offer a number of potential best practices in areas ranging from distance learning, outreach, civic engagement, and health care. We recommend sustaining and broadening evaluation and assessment of these programs. This is especially critical as other sending countries, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, look to Mexico as a model for providing services to its diaspora and other recipient countries look to work with sending countries to make migration work for all participants.”
The Executive Summary in full:
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.
The United States and Mexico have an important stake in the success of a shared population whose demography poses several challenges to immigrant integration in the United States. Mexican immigrants disproportionately have lower educational attainment, lack English proficiency, lack access to quality health care, and are more likely to work in low-wage, unskilled occupations that do not offer health insurance but may expose many to unsafe working conditions.
In addition, the large Mexican unauthorized population and recently arrived legal immigrants remain outside the US social safety net. Mexican immigrants may be left especially vulnerable in this economy as they are concentrated in industries — including construction, manufacturing, leisure, and hospitality — that are struggling through the recession. With limited evidence of return migration, Mexican immigrants increasingly will need assistance to succeed socially and economically.
Driven in part by the opportunity and necessity of supporting a shared population of adults and children, IME has set in motion a range of immigrant integration practices to help Mexican immigrants succeed in the United States. IME’s approach is based on a belief that a better integrated immigrant — one who has access to quality K-12 or adult education, learns English, is healthy, understands his or her rights, and is politically active — benefits the individual immigrant, the sending country, and the receiving country.
In many cases, IME’s programs are binational civil- society collaborations between IME and US school districts, hospitals, universities, foundations, and community-based organizations that fill gaps in the social welfare system caused by funding shortfalls, lack of experience with migrant populations, eligibility requirements, or neglect.
These projects include:
• Creation of a unique model of binational civic engagement through the Advisory Council (Consejo Consultivo del IME), a migrant-elected, migrant-led council that focuses on the Mexican government’s policies vis-à-vis Mexicans abroad while serving the ancillary purpose of leadership development within diaspora communities.
• Transcript analysis and diagnostic assessments in Spanish for US school districts that need assistance determining the appropriate grade placement of Mexican migrant children to promote graduation and reduce dropouts.
• Provision of low-cost culturally and linguistically appropriate distance-learning instruction for Mexican immigrant adults that is aligned with instruction received in the home country.
• Establishment of in-consulate medical stations (Ventanillas de Salud) where unauthorized immigrants and their families can receive basic medical information.
• Provision of financial literacy workshops that encourage the use of formal banking institutions in order to build sufficient credit history in the United States to qualify for a home or car loan.
In some cases, IME serves as the implementing agency for the program, but in other cases it serves a coordinating role between appropriate government agencies.
IME’s policies and practices underscore a shift in the Mexican approach to its migrants, from relatively limited engagement with their diaspora to the creation of an institution that cultivates a formal relationship between Mexico and its migrants in the United States. This shift can be seen in the evolution of its consular offices as they become important service delivery sites and coordinating entities for immigrant integration. This development coincides with an increase in the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States and the expansion of Mexican consular offices in the United States over the last decade to meet their needs.
While evaluations of IME’s programs remain scarce, its projects offer a number of potential best practices in areas ranging from distance learning, outreach, civic engagement, and health care. We recommend sustaining and broadening evaluation and assessment of these programs. This is especially critical as other sending countries, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, look to Mexico as a model for providing services to its diaspora and other recipient countries look to work with sending countries to make migration work for all participants.

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