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U.S. Citizens in Mexico: A Forgotten Population in Need of Protection

Who Are the U.S. Citizens in Mexico?: A Profile of a Forgotten Population

Imagine living in a country where you don’t have the right to vote, work, study, or access health care. Imagine being separated from your family, discriminated against, and vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Imagine being a U.S. citizen, but not being recognized as one.



This is the reality for over 1.6 million Americans who live in Mexico, many of them due to deportation or return migration of their family members. These U.S. citizens face multiple challenges and vulnerabilities in their host country, such as lack of documentation, access to health care, education, and job opportunities. A new report by the Baker Institute for Public Policy sheds light on their situation and calls for improved consular services and a diaspora policy to protect their rights and prepare for their potential return.


No Country for U.S. Citizens: Failures to Protect Americans

The report, titled U.S. Citizens in Mexico: Displaced Without Protection, is based on interviews with U.S. citizens, Mexican officials, civil society organizations, and academics. It reveals the complex and diverse profiles of this population, which includes children, young adults, elderly, veterans, and LGBTQ+ individuals. It also analyzes the legal, social, and economic barriers they face, as well as the gaps and opportunities for intervention from both the U.S. and Mexican governments.



Some of the main findings and recommendations of the report are:

  • Many U.S. citizens in Mexico lack proof of citizenship, such as birth certificates or passports, which prevents them from accessing basic services and benefits in both countries. The report urges the U.S. government to simplify and expedite the process of obtaining these documents, as well as to increase outreach and awareness campaigns to inform this population of their rights and obligations.

  • U.S. citizens in Mexico often struggle to enroll in school, especially if they do not speak Spanish or have valid transcripts. The report suggests that the U.S. government should collaborate with the Mexican government and local educational institutions to facilitate the recognition and validation of academic credits and degrees, as well as to provide bilingual and bicultural education programs.

  • U.S. citizens in Mexico have limited access to health care, either because they are not eligible for public insurance, or because they cannot afford private insurance or out-of-pocket costs. The report recommends that the U.S. government should expand the coverage and affordability of health care for this population, either through existing programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, or through new initiatives such as a binational health insurance scheme.

  • U.S. citizens in Mexico face discrimination and stigma, especially if they are perceived as deportees or returnees. The report proposes that the U.S. government should support the integration and inclusion of this population, by promoting cultural exchange and dialogue, as well as by addressing the root causes of migration and deportation, such as poverty, violence, and lack of opportunities.


A Case for Recognition and Support

The report also highlights the potential contributions of U.S. citizens in Mexico to both countries, such as their cultural diversity, bilingualism, and transnational networks. It argues that these assets could be leveraged to foster economic development, social cohesion, and bilateral cooperation, if only they were recognized and supported by the governments and societies of both countries.


At Change Peoria, we believe that U.S. citizens in Mexico deserve the same protection and support as any other Americans abroad. We also believe that Peoria has a role to play in this issue, as a city that welcomes and celebrates diversity, and that has strong ties with Mexico and its people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Peoria has a population of 113,150, of which 7.1% are Hispanic or Latino. Many of them have family members or friends who are U.S. citizens living in Mexico, or who have experienced deportation or return migration themselves. Their stories and voices need to be heard and respected, as they are part of our community and our identity.



That’s why we are sharing this important report by the Baker Institute for Public Policy, which highlights the challenges and needs of this population and offers recommendations for policy change. We hope you will take the time to read it and join us in advocating for the rights and well-being of our fellow citizens.

Together, we can make a difference for U.S. citizens in Mexico, and for Peoria as a whole.

 

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