Friday, July 18, 2008

SEARCHING FOR A GREATER MEXICO

Louis E.V. Nevaer, New American Media For a generation, Mexican intellectuals have pondered the possibility of a "Greater Mexico" - the idea that Mexican immigration to the United States was so persistent and sustainable, that Mexican culture could "re-settle" lands lost to the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican American War. Americans, clinging to the belief of a "melting pot," dismissed that notion, arguing that Mexican immigrants would follow historical norms and assimilate into mainstream American life, as previous generations of newcomers did before them.

A new study by the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, part of Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Relations, offers insight that answers this lingering question. As Carlos González y Gutierrez, IME’s director, told Notimex, "To our surprise and unease, we realize that Greater Mexico isn’t on the other side of the moon, but that more and more it looks like us, and that has many consequences. The principle one is that this new situation reflects, to a good degree, our divisions of class, background, language, ethnicity and educational attainment."

In other words, there is a "perfect storm" in which middle class ambition, immigration and higher birth rates among Hispanics, is changing the face of Mexicans in the United States. Whereas in the past the bulk of Mexicans entering the United States has come from the economically marginalized - rural farmers, urban poor, under-educated and unemployed - as part of NAFTA’s unintended consequences, Mexican middle class professionals are now establishing themselves on both sides of the border. Hundreds of thousands of non-indigenous Mexicans, meaning Mexicans who are Caucasian and of European descent, are migrating to the United States; the idea of a "Greater Mexico" is becoming a reality.

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