Incorporating in the United States and Mexico : Mexican immigrant mobilization and organization in four American cities
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This work analyzes the political incorporation of Mexican immigrants into both their home and host countries through the examination of the origins, dynamics and patterns of action of first-generation Mexican-American organizations in four American cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Political incorporation has traditionally implied that immigrants abandon their political interests in their country of origin. Because immigrant political incorporation is often tightly linked to and influenced by incorporation or reincorporation into the homeland, these two processes should be studied together. The work presented is based on a large and unique data set based on extensive fieldwork and numerous interviews in the four cities. Among the major findings are: (1) Mexican organizations in the four cities were created from the 1990s onwards in reaction to conditions and incentives in both the United States and Mexico, casting doubt on transnational approaches that attribute the emergence of these organizations to technological developments and other similar factors; (2) convergence in the types of organizations Mexicans have established is explained by explicit home country policies oriented towards mobilizing and organizing them, while variations are explained by immigrants’ interactions with the structures of opportunity they have encountered in the cities where they have settled; and (3) mobilization towards Mexico has had a positive effect on domestic mobilization as well, challenging the view that reestablishing ties to their homeland diminishes immigrant’s interest in their host country. However, homeland mobilization may have the negative effect of dividing immigrants along Mexican party lines.