The Mestizo Nation Unbound: Dual citizenship of Euro-Mexicans and US-Mexicans

Pablo Mateos

Tuesday, March 8th 2016
8:30-10:30 Panel 4: Citizenship, Inequality and Mobility

Mexico recognized dual citizenship for its nationals in 1997, signalling a dramatic shift in nationality policy in the 1990s aimed at engaging with their diaspora in the U.S. Twenty years on, the total population entitled to dual Mexican-U.S. citizenship -whether they actually exercise that right or not- is actually the world’s largest true binational collective, comprised of at least 15 million people, with the right to live and work on both countries. Most of these US-Mexicans are associated with a low socioeconomic and more mixed (mestizo) or indigenous background of rural origins, although there are substantial exceptions along the 3000km border region. In contrast, several hundred thousands well-educated, mostly white, Mexicans with recent European ancestors have seized the opportunity given by Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany to recover the nationality of their grandparents, more precisely European Union (EU) citizenship. Furthermore, other affluent Mexicans have used their migratory experience in Europe to secure EU citizenship through naturalization in any of the 32 countries that form the European Economic Area (EEA) space. EU passports give these Euro-Mexicans enhanced mobility, travel education and business opportunities in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the western world. This paper gathers empirical evidence from individuals and families engaging in these multizen practices collected through 300 in-depth interviews in Mexico, the U.S., the UK and the Netherlands. The paper proposes a typology of Mexican dual citizens, across various geographic regions, socioeconomic groups and social practices. This typology reveals the cracks in the Mexican Nation building project after the 1910 revolution around a homogenous “mestizo” Nation concept. The expansion of dual citizenship is revealing the stark socio-racial inequalities established during the colonial period and exacerbated by pro-European immigration policies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the later “age of rural Mexican migration to the US” in the last 30 years. Through complex transnational and multiple citizenship practices this vast collective of Mexican dual citizens poses a number of contradictions for the future of the Mexican Nation State, with important implications for citizenship policy worldwide.

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