Diasporas lobbying the host government: Mexican Diaspora as a third actor of the bilateral relationship between Mexico and U. S.


Author Name

José de Jesús López Almejo

Author Address

Professor of International Relations at the Autonomous University of Baja California, Campus Tijuana Mexico, Email: jose.de.j[email protected]

Keywords

Mexican diaspora, diaspora lobby

Abstract

Lobbying is a cultural practice of the U.S. political and business classes and civil society. Rooted in the first amendment right of petition, it is an effective tool for bringing pressure by domestic or foreign interest groups to influence government decisions by hiring professional firms or through grassroots mobilization. It is only logical that Mexican-origin organizations have had to learn to do it over the years. A Diaspora is a concept difficult to define. Most of the academic works in the field of International Relations argue that a Diaspora is a set of individuals that are living out of the borders of their nation of origin as a result of dispersion. Aside from being dispersed in more than two different geographical points, they keep a close link with the motherland (country of origin) acting as a third actor in the relationship between both countries: the one that is hosting the Diaspora and the country of origin. Diasporas’ cores are made up of well-organized elites of a group who mobilizes the community. According to this logic, only a minority of the whole group is permanently active and is not always visible. The majority are passive members who second the core group in mobilizations. Although not permanently organized, they are receptive to the coordination by Diaspora elites. Most people in a Diaspora are silent members of the group. Ordinary people are not up to date on political, social, or cultural issues, but their number and weight in the economy make them the target of the Diaspora elites. The Mexican case has these characteristics. I define Mexican Diaspora in the United States as the group of people made up of Mexican immigrants and their descendants born there, known as Mexican-Americans. The latter, together with a segment of immigrants, children, or young people who have become naturalized U.S. citizens, consider themselves Latinos or Hispanics, and play that role to achieve greater acceptance in political life. The organizations that consider themselves representatives of the interests of the U.S. Latino population, like the MexicanAmerican Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), or the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), are part of this group. I also identify as part of the Diaspora the coalition of networks of Mexican migrants and the councils, federations, and clubs of Mexican born U.S. residents. Under historical, complex and very difficult conditions, Mexican-Americans and Mexican migrants have learned to influence the U. S. political system, first of all, 1) to increase their power as a community through the vote in elections as part of the Latino community in U.S. due to their size; 2) to help Mexico, directly, through remittances; 3) to help Mexican government, indirectly, to influence some U. S. political decisions in specific cases that could affect Mexico. The current dominant paradigm related to this issue is firstly, that Mexican Diaspora is not well organized, though it is segmented; secondly, that it does not have a permanent structure for coordination; and third, that most of its members are not politicized. To respond to these points and argue that they do not necessarily represent the current reality, I will argue that Mexican Diaspora living in U.S. have developed strategies that became it a very important factor to be considered in the relationship between Mexico and U. S. The analysis of those different strategies used by the Mexican Diaspora to influence the U. S. decisions toward Mexico is the main issue of concern of this study.


Conference

International Conference on "Global Migration: Rethinking Skills, Knowledge and Culture"
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