Migration Institutions in Mexico
In response to Migration Policy in Mexico, migration institutions are directed both to foreigners that live in Mexico and Mexican emigrants abroad.
The 2011 Migration Act (Ley de Migración) in its Articles 18 to 21, recognises as authorities in migration matters the Department of Government, the National Institute of Migration, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, it includes as auxiliary authorities in Articles 26 to 30: the Ministry of Tourism; the Ministry of Health; the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic; the National System for Comprehensive Development of the Family (DIF for its initials in Spanish), the DIF systems at the state level and that of the Federal District, as well as the National Institute of Women.
In that regard, the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB, for its initials in Spanish) has the following powers:
I. To formulate and conduct Mexico’s migration policy, considering the opinion of authorities to that effect stipulated in the legislation, as well as the demands and positions of the other Branches of the Union, the governments of the entities of the federation, and civil society;
II. Set the fees, requirements, or procedures for issuance of visas, and authorisation for stay statuses (…) with the prior approval of the Department of Labour and Social Security, and (…) the other authorities to that effect stipulated in the legislation;
III. Establish or abolish requirements for the entry of foreigners to national territory, through provisions of general nature published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Official Gazette of the Federation in English), considering the opinion of the authorities to that effect stipulated in the legislation;
IV. Suspend or prohibit the entry of foreigners, pursuant to terms of the Law and its Regulation;
V. In coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, promote and execute international instruments on matters of assisted return regarding both Mexicans and foreigners;
VI. Establish which are and suppress the destination places of the international transit of persons, pursuant to terms of the Law and its Regulation;
VII. Dictate Readmission Agreements, according to events stipulated by the Migration Act; and
VIII. Others stipulated by the General Population Act (Ley General de Población), the Migration Act and its Regulation, and other applicable legal provisions.
National Institute of Migration
The National Institute of Migration (INM, for its initials in Spanish), created by decree 1993, and elevated to the rank of Law in 2011, is the decentralisedadministrative organisation of the Ministry of the Interior that executes, controls, and supervises the actions performed by migration authorities in national territory, as well as the implementation of policies regarding the matter. To that effect, it has the following powers:
I. Implement the policy regarding migration matters;
II. Monitor the entry and exit of persons in territory of the United Mexican States, and examine their documentation;
III. Process and resolve issues related to the admission, stay, and exit of foreigners to and from the country;
IV. Hear, resolve, and execute deportation or assisted return of foreigners;
V. Impose sanctions (…);
VI. Keep and maintain updated the National Registry of Foreigners;
VII. Transport to migration stations or places authorised as such, foreigners that so merit pursuant to provisions of the Migration Act, respecting at all times their human rights;
VIII. Coordinate the operations of service providers to migrants found in national territory;
IX. Provide the information contained in its databases of different IT systems it administrates to various national security institutions that so request it, pursuant to applicable legal provisions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE, for its initials in Spanish) will have the power to process and resolve the issuance of visas from the Consulates of the United Mexican States abroad. In addition, according to Article 84 of the General Population Act, in coordination with the SEGOB it and may execute inter-institutional agreements with other countries and international organisations, on matters related to the safe, dignified, and orderly repatriation of Mexicans. The SRE is also the agency of the federal government that applies the Nationality Act (Ley de Nacionalidad) and its Regulation, and issues Mexican passports within and outside the country.
The Government of Mexico’s commitment to Mexicans that live and work abroad translated into the creation of the IME, a decentralised agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The IME covers the functions of the Presidential Office for Attention to Mexican Communities Abroad, and the Mexican Communities Abroad Program. It has an Advisory Council composed of 101 members, representatives of the Mexican and Mexican-American community in the United States, four members in Canada, 10 Latin organisations, and 10 special consultants.
IME is the executive and operational organisation of the National Council for Mexican Communities Abroad, chaired by the President of the Republic and integrated by the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs; Government; Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Nutrition; Economy; Treasury and Public Credit; Public Education; Social Development; Labour and Social Security; Health; Tourism; and Environment and Natural Resources.
The objectives of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad are to: promote strategies; integrate programs; gather proposals and recommendations from communities, their members, organisations, and advisory entities, leading to elevate the level of life of Mexican communities abroad, as well as to execute the guidelines issued by the National Council for Mexican Communities Abroad.
The Institute of Mexicans Abroad has the following functions:
- To promote the revaluation of the migration phenomenon and honourable treatment of Mexicans that live abroad;
- To favour the creation of meeting spaces and communications with and between Mexican communities that live abroad;
- To act as liaison, in coordination with representatives of Mexico, with Mexican communities that live abroad;
- To establish adequate coordination with state and municipal governments, institutions, and organisations in matters of prevention, attention, and support of Mexican communities abroad, and other related and complementary topics;
- To design and promote mechanisms for the execution of programs and projects inherent to the tasks of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad;
- To organise and participate in public, private, and academic seminars, conferences, symposiums, discussions, and congresses regarding matters of migration and attention to Mexicans abroad;
- To gather and systemise proposals and recommendations, leading to improve social development of Mexican communities abroad, formulated by advisory organisations constituted by representatives of said communities.
Actions to connect with and protect national emigrants abroad
Programs within the area of the National Institute of Migration
In the 1980s, leaders of social, business, political, and religious organisations of the Mexican community and Mexican-Americans residing in the United States met to submit to the Mexican Government the proposal to create mechanisms the would control and gradually eliminate the rates of abuse, extortion, theft, corruption, and arrogance incurred by public servants of various entities of the federal government, against co-nationals upon their entry to the country.
Thereby, on April 6, 1989, the Executive branch of the Federal Government issued the Agreement to improve federal public services at borders, maritime ports, and international airports of the country. Regardless of the fact that its objectives were focused on the generation of greater foreign currency through tourism, promotion of exports, and adequate transportation of persons and merchandise, it also intended to grant greater security to the public user, honest and efficient management of the Nation’s assets and resources, administrative simplification, dissemination of rights and obligations of users, and promotion of complaint and denouncement mechanisms. Since that year, the actions of the Agreement have been known as the “Programa Paisano,” which includes the participation of eight different agencies: (1) Minstry of the Interior; (2) Ministry of Foreign Affairs; (3) Ministry of the Treasury and Public Credit; (4) Minsitry of the Comptroller General’s Office of the Federation (SECOGEF, for its initials in Spanish) (today the Department of Public Function); (5) Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Nutrition (SAGAR, for its initials in Spanish); (6) Ministry of Communications; (7) Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism; as well as the (8) Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, and Airports and Auxiliary Services.
The first operation of the Program was performed in 1989, and for several years operated only during vacation periods. Ever so slowly actions to safeguard the rights of co-nationals entering or in transit through Mexico started broadening.
The 1995 to 2000 National Development Plan, Programa Paisano acquired significant importance in the initiative called “Nación Mexicana” (“Mexican Nation” in English), that aimed to dignify the work of Mexicans abroad, so that co-nationals upon return would receive fair treatment, adequate orientation and respect for their human rights and assets, and, recognise the importance to solidify cultural bonds, and social and economic ties with Mexican communities, and persons with Mexican roots in the United States and Canada.
Subsequently important decisions were made to strengthen it, such as integrating it with strategic programs of the National Institute of Migration (INM); establish representations in Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Houston, Texas, and in this manner add efforts of legislators, social organisations, and state and municipal governments.
The mission of the Programa Paisano is that all actions of government agencies, entities, and institutions that compose Paisano are defined in instruments aimed to ensure co-nationals that their entry, transit, and exit of the country will be conducted with the absolute guarantee of their rights, the safety of their assets and lives, and total knowledge of their obligations.
To comply with the above, it is necessary to foster in public servants that they must treat compatriots with respect, good service, and dignity; strengthening, in this way, their trust in the Government of Mexico.
Furthermore, the intention is the consolidate Paisano as an up-to-date, comprehensive, efficient, and opportune information system for co-nationals.
Strengthening the service culture of the personnel of the agencies, entities, and institutions that compose Paisano, will help to eradicate practices of corruption and abuse.
Ensure dignified treatment and compliance with the law for Mexicans who enter, transit, or exit our country, through the following actions:
- Inform and disseminate enforcement of obligations and rights.
- Protect the integrity of their physical and personal assets.
- Raise awareness among and train public servants and civil society.
- Listen to and follow-up on complaints and denouncements.
- Paisano is permanent, operates under the authority of an Inter-Sectoral Commission, which has a Technical Committee, National Coordination, three representations in the United States, and 31 Committees at the national level.
The Humane Repatriation Program is aimed especially at the repatriated or deported migrant, to offer him/her safety, orientation, and support upon return to Mexico.
The benefits offered by the Program are food, medical care, communications with family, transportation to temporary shelters, information regarding temporary employment offers, academic certifications, and discounts to return to home.
The flow of undocumented migrants coming from Central America, entering through Mexico’s southern border with the goal to reach the United States, has become a significant problem in the last 15 years.
The situation worsened due to the traditional migration complexity on that border, which is characterised by informal trade, the presence of temporary workers, local visitors, and the entry of tourists and other visitors that in great part lack the required migration documents.
Also of concern is the increasing trend of trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling networks, and the lack of adequate infrastructure and material and human resources, such as bridges and points of entry.
For this reason the INM went to work on the task to prepare, with the support of national and international public officers, academics, social participation organisations, and the private sector, a Migration Policy proposal for the southern border of Mexico.
From this, the Migration Program for the Southern Border of Mexico was developed and is summarised in four strategic lines for better management of the matter, through the: a) facilitation of documentation for migration flows, b) greater protection of the rights of migrants, c) greater border security, and d) all based on a greater and better material and technological infrastructure.
Insofar is achieved a greater and better documentation and registry of all migration flows that enter through the southern border of the country, it can contribute effectively to border security and respect for the rights of migrants, facilitating in turn a better understanding with neighbouring countries to provide a regional approach that understands the migration dynamics of the country as a territory of origin, transit, and destination of migrants.
This Program will allow Mexico’s southern border to become a dignified, orderly, secure, and modern zone, where trans-border life and the management of migration flows is facilitated, with respect to human rights of migrants, in favour of the region’s development.
Programs of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad
In matters of services focused on elevating the level of life of the Mexican Diaspora, the IME has an agenda of services with the following topics, Culture, Sports, Education, Financial education, Gastronomy, Community Organisation, Productive Projects, Remittances, Health, and Housing
For all our communities abroad preservation of the Mexican identity and culture is one of its essential characteristics. For the IME promoting the knowledge of our culture, traditions, and values is a way to increase the quality of life of Mexican communities.
To address this field, the IME collaborates with governmental and non-governmental institutions, and private and public social organisations in actions of cultural promotion abroad, and provides, through available channels of communication, broad and detailed information regarding relevant issues in this field.
Sport has been identified as an element of social cohesion, detection of natural leaders, capacity strengthening of community organisations, and a source of physical and mental health for individuals. Relating to Mexicans abroad, Mexican-American sport clubs and associations have been a way to offer recreation options and alternatives to people, of which, it should be noted, is key to building social capital.
The Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME), in co-ordination with the National Committee of Physical Culture and Sports (CONADE, for its initials in Spanish) and Mexican Consulates in North America, with the support of numerous community organisations, sport promoters, and educational centres, carries out various activities with the purpose to promote recreation, physical activity, and sports among Mexicans that live outside of Mexico.
Mexican communities living abroad, carry-out daily efforts to actively develop and integrate themselves into the society they live in. Education is a fundamental factor to open the doors of social development and personal achievement for a promising future.
In this sense, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad has as its goal to strengthen the capabilities of Mexicans that live abroad by promoting, through the diplomatic and consular network, the educational opportunities developed by the Government of Mexico for that purpose.
The growing incorporation of recent technologies has also allowed the growth of educational opportunities that public and private institutions offer, that range from basic education to postgraduate, so compatriots, regardless of their place of residence, may access one or several of these programs.
The information contained in the following links show the opportunities that various institutions offer, and in which the great majority have as a characteristic the flexibility to make the study load compatible with work activities, and thus make their access and completion possible.
In addition to educational services offers from Mexican institutions, through the initiative of the Committee on Educational Issues of IME’s Advisory Council, a link has been created to information gathered by the counsellors on North American institutions that also offer educational opportunities for Mexican migrant communities.
The Institute of Mexicans Abroad, based on the concept that financial education and providing access to banking services for Mexican are consular promotion and protection tasks, has developed a Financial Education for Mexican Migrants Program aims to familiarise them with programs and services that provide tools for better decision making related to future planning and management of their resources.
The Program is advertised through the Consular Network in collaboration with various non-profit organisations, banks, credit unions, and remittances sending companies that already offer financial education programs aimed at the Spanish speaking community.
There are three main lines of action taken:
Special Informative Workshops are held on financial education to establish bi-national collaboration mechanisms with banks, credit unions, federal authorities, and community organisations with the purpose to implement strategies to bring financial education programs to the most number of Mexicans.
Banks-Consulate Agreements are encouraged by means of which access is granted to representatives of American banks that accept the Consular Registration Card to Mexican consular buildings to promote the financial education of Mexican migrants through courses, workshops, and the distribution of information in Spanish.
Programs and resources on financial education offered by other organisations in the United States and Mexico that may be useful for Mexicans abroad are promoted to provide them the necessary information in order to open a bank account, send money securely, and access credit.
The Institute of Mexicans Abroad supports the efforts of Mexican organisations that reside abroad. In North America, one of the natural forms or mechanisms of organisation revolves around Clubes de Oriundos that bring together compatriots from the same community of origin, with the purpose to promote local infrastructure works in the communities they left in Mexico. Over time, these clubs have developed a more diversified agenda, including actions to improve their quality of life at their places of residence.
The program “Tu Vivienda en México” (“Your House in Mexico” in English) is the result of a collaborative effort between the Mexican Government through its National Commission of Housing (CONAVI, for its initials in Spanish), the Federal Mortgage Association (SHF, for its initials in Spanish), and the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME), and private companies through Financial Associations of Limited Object (SOFOLES, for its initials in Spanish), and housing developers to promote and encourage among the Mexican population abroad, the purchase of housing in Mexico. The program allows the purchase of a new or used house through a mortgage loan, making loan payments from the place of residence of the client.
With this initiative Mexicans abroad can build family assets, while at the same time, it fosters remittances sent home be used in a productive manner, and promotes the theory that remittances serve as potential triggers of real estate investment in our country.
The IME has backed this program by means of a public education campaign at Mexican Consulates in the United States and Canada, consisting of posters, information booklets, and video clips transmitted in the waiting rooms of the representative offices, as well as at fairs and seminars that aim to offer on-site information regarding the ways to purchase a house in Mexico.
Remittances play a fundamental role in the Mexican economy as they are the main source of income for more than one million Mexican families that use these flows to cover basic consumption needs. According to data from the study Las Remesas Familiares en México (Family Remittances in Mexico, in English), published in February 2009 by the Bank of Mexico, 86.4% of remittances are used for family maintenance.
For this reason the Government of Mexico is committed more than ever to promote programs and options so that migrants can send their remittances at the lowest cost, for which the following lines of action have been implemented:
Promotion of financial inclusion and education.
Promoting that Mexicans abroad have access to financial services is a priority for the Institute of Mexicans Abroad since having a bank or credit union account helps migrants avoid theft, offers the possibility to send money at a lower cost and access to credit and savings, among other services.
To promote this access, Mexican Consulates in the United States are constantly promoting the acceptance of the Consular Registration Card as a valid identification to open accounts in financial institutions. To date, more than 400 financial institutions in the United States accept the Consular Registration Card.
Furthermore, Consulates have agreements with financial institutions that visit their installations to offer financial education with the intention that Mexicans abroad can have more and better tools for decision-making regarding their family finances.
The program Ventanilla de Salud (Window to Health, in English) is a program that looks to facilitate access to health services for Mexican immigrants, and at the same time generate a culture of prevention, information, and participation in health matters leading to the prevention of illnesses, improving the health status of the Mexican migrant population, and favouring the knowledge and responsibilities of the user in such a manner that the latter improves his/her quality of life.
Objectives of the Ventanilla de Salud program:
- Increase the knowledge and use of health public programs.
- Improve health conditions and strengthen illness prevention mechanisms of Mexican families that live in the United States.
- Decrease the use of emergency rooms by the Mexican population, facilitating access to physician care.
- Create awareness and educate users on topics of health problem prevention relevant to this population.
- Become a reliable information centre that has educational references and materials for Mexican families that live in the United States. Establish a direct and active collaboration between health organisations and institutions.
In 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) approved the implementation of the Ventanilla de Salud (VDS, for its initials in Spanish) model at the consulates of San Diego and Los Angeles. In collaboration with more than eight health agencies, in 2004, the first pilot phase of this program that was financed by The California Endowment came to an end.
As of 2005, the SRE, through the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, started to coordinate and promote of the VDS program by implementing several operational policies destined to guarantee VDS’s provision of services, and evaluation of the results of each VDS.
Services are provided within Mexican consulates to users who go to carry out a consular formality.
Through the Ventanilla de Salud, the following services are provided:
- Referrals to clinics, health centres, or hospitals to receive low-cost medical services, regardless of the migration status of the person.
- Education on health topics, such as the most common illnesses that afflict the immigrant population of Hispanic origin, and general recommendations to remain healthy.
- Information, enrolment, and/or renewal of public health programs for those persons eligible, especially in the cases of children and pregnant women.
Through the Ventanilla de Salud other services are also provided, such as:
- Information and references about nutrition programs, consumer rights, hospital bills, and many others.
- Diagnostic services at mobile clinics (illness detection).
- Health fairs or enrolment in public health events.