As money sent home drops, Mexico reaches out

As money sent home drops, Mexico reaches out
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Last updated: Sunday November 23, 2008, 2:47 PM

BY SAMANTHA HENRY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

var clickTitle = “As money sent home drops, Mexico reaches out”; var partnerID=272366; var _hb=1; Comment on this story Email this story Printer friendly version Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

#printDesc{display:none;} NEWARK — As the economic crisis worsens, the money that Mexicans living in the United States send home to their families continues to decline — reaching record lows over the summer.

But the Mexican government has long known that the day would come when the historic migration of its people north, including a huge number to New Jersey, would slow, and the remittance revenue stream — Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income behind oil exports — would eventually dry up.

The situation is so serious that in September Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited Mexican immigrants in New Brunswick as the last stop on his way home after speaking at the United Nations.

The Mexican government has been preparing for the scenario with initiatives aimed at solidifying ties to their communities abroad; especially with the U.S.-born children of Mexican immigrants whose allegiance to their homeland weakens with each new generation.

“The long-term impact that this migration will not be seen in its full potential during this generation, but in future generations,” said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the executive director of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad. “That impact will change the social fabric not just of Mexico, but of the United States. If you look at things from that long-horizon view, the remittance boom is only one chapter.”

Gutierrez’s organization, an agency of the Mexican government, was formed in 2003 to institutionalize immigrant relationship efforts that he says began in the early 1980s. Gutierrez says that’s when the Mexican government’s once-disdainful attitude toward its expatriates started to change.

“They’ve tried to take a much more proactive stance with these communities, with the recognition that they might not be coming back,” Gutierrez said in a telephone interview from Mexico City.

The institute supports education and cultural programs for Mexican immigrants and their families in the U.S., including Spanish classes, a program that sends Mexican teachers to U.S. districts with a shortage of bilingual educators, donations of Spanish-language materials to U.S. schools and libraries, and literacy initiatives for adults.

Other programs are aimed at the children of immigrants — many who may not have been to Mexico — that include sponsoring soccer tournaments, cultural programs, youth exchanges and academic scholarships.

Gutierrez says the Mexican government wants to emphasize to immigrants that it doesn’t just view them as revenue streams for the estimated $23 billion they have pumped into the economy annually over the past few years.

He says that remittances, although important, account for 3 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product. “For Mexico, migration is a very bad business, even with the remittances,” Gutierrez said. “We end up losing a lot more than we gain, and these losses — of production, of workers, of families broken apart, of talent, of skilled labor that could be useful to our national economy — these losses are nowhere near compensated for by the flow of remittances workers abroad send home.”

The Mexican government has also expanded the role — and reach — of its 50 U.S.-based consulates, and made legislative changes to allow Mexicans to hold dual citizenship and vote in Mexican elections from abroad.

Herminio Garcia, who runs a travel agency and a Mexican cultural center called Casa Puebla in Passaic, attended Calderon’s speech at a New Brunswick school.

“The Mexican government seems to be a lot more worried about us these days,” Garcia said. “They seem to be working on things, but they need to make more investments in Mexico — especially in the rural areas where many of our families live — and to make it easier for people to open small businesses there.”

Garcia is the kind of community leader the Mexican government has been reaching out to. The 65-year-old recently declined an offer to run for a seat on a consular advisory committee the Mexican government established to give immigrant leaders input into foreign affairs.

Garcia says when he emigrated from Puebla, Mexico, to Passaic in the early 1970s, his contact with the Mexican government was remote.

Now, the Mexican Consulate comes to him, with consular services and traveling diplomats who set up temporary centers across the tri-state region to be more accessible to Mexican communities springing up in increasingly remote areas.

Mexican consulates have extended hours or added weekend shifts to accommodate working immigrants, and have expanded their services to include health fairs and cultural events, for example.

But Garcia’s main concern — one he shares with government officials like Gutierrez — is how to make sure the new American-born generation stays in touch with its Mexican heritage.

“They will definitely lose the connection in three or four generations, like the Irish and Italians,” Garcia said. “They’ll easily adopt the culture of the country they live in, but I hope it doesn’t happen too quickly.”

NEWARK — As the economic crisis worsens, the money that Mexicans living in the United States send home to their families continues to decline — reaching record lows over the summer.

But the Mexican government has long known that the day would come when the historic migration of its people north, including a huge number to New Jersey, would slow, and the remittance revenue stream — Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income behind oil exports — would eventually dry up.

The situation is so serious that in September Mexican President Felipe Calderon visited Mexican immigrants in New Brunswick as the last stop on his way home after speaking at the United Nations.

The Mexican government has been preparing for the scenario with initiatives aimed at solidifying ties to their communities abroad; especially with the U.S.-born children of Mexican immigrants whose allegiance to their homeland weakens with each new generation.

“The long-term impact that this migration will not be seen in its full potential during this generation, but in future generations,” said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the executive director of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad. “That impact will change the social fabric not just of Mexico, but of the United States. If you look at things from that long-horizon view, the remittance boom is only one chapter.”

Gutierrez’s organization, an agency of the Mexican government, was formed in 2003 to institutionalize immigrant relationship efforts that he says began in the early 1980s. Gutierrez says that’s when the Mexican government’s once-disdainful attitude toward its expatriates started to change.

“They’ve tried to take a much more proactive stance with these communities, with the recognition that they might not be coming back,” Gutierrez said in a telephone interview from Mexico City.

The institute supports education and cultural programs for Mexican immigrants and their families in the U.S., including Spanish classes, a program that sends Mexican teachers to U.S. districts with a shortage of bilingual educators, donations of Spanish-language materials to U.S. schools and libraries, and literacy initiatives for adults.

Other programs are aimed at the children of immigrants — many who may not have been to Mexico — that include sponsoring soccer tournaments, cultural programs, youth exchanges and academic scholarships.

Gutierrez says the Mexican government wants to emphasize to immigrants that it doesn’t just view them as revenue streams for the estimated $23 billion they have pumped into the economy annually over the past few years.

He says that remittances, although important, account for 3 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product. “For Mexico, migration is a very bad business, even with the remittances,” Gutierrez said. “We end up losing a lot more than we gain, and these losses — of production, of workers, of families broken apart, of talent, of skilled labor that could be useful to our national economy — these losses are nowhere near compensated for by the flow of remittances workers abroad send home.”

The Mexican government has also expanded the role — and reach — of its 50 U.S.-based consulates, and made legislative changes to allow Mexicans to hold dual citizenship and vote in Mexican elections from abroad.

Herminio Garcia, who runs a travel agency and a Mexican cultural center called Casa Puebla in Passaic, attended Calderon’s speech at a New Brunswick school.

“The Mexican government seems to be a lot more worried about us these days,” Garcia said. “They seem to be working on things, but they need to make more investments in Mexico — especially in the rural areas where many of our families live — and to make it easier for people to open small businesses there.”

Garcia is the kind of community leader the Mexican government has been reaching out to. The 65-year-old recently declined an offer to run for a seat on a consular advisory committee the Mexican government established to give immigrant leaders input into foreign affairs.

Garcia says when he emigrated from Puebla, Mexico, to Passaic in the early 1970s, his contact with the Mexican government was remote.

Now, the Mexican Consulate comes to him, with consular services and traveling diplomats who set up temporary centers across the tri-state region to be more accessible to Mexican communities springing up in increasingly remote areas.

Mexican consulates have extended hours or added weekend shifts to accommodate working immigrants, and have expanded their services to include health fairs and cultural events, for example.

But Garcia’s main concern — one he shares with government officials like Gutierrez — is how to make sure the new American-born generation stays in touch with its Mexican heritage.

“They will definitely lose the connection in three or four generations, like the Irish and Italians,” Garcia said. “They’ll easily adopt the culture of the country they live in, but I hope it doesn’t happen too quickly.”

<!–

–>

<!–Please report comments

that violate the terms of service

.–>

  1. jackie says: either get your citizenship, or get out! pretty simple concept. You wanna stay here, abide by our rules.
  2. AnHonestCop says: E pluribus unum. From many one. Not from many many. That is the problem. Lets drop all the hyphens and just be American.
  3. b0zmeg says: Parasites will be parasites

Read All Comments…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s