Immigration to Mexico

Immigration to Mexico

Over the centuries, Mexico has received immigrants from the Americas, Europe, and Asia but not to the extent of other countries in the Americas such as the United States, Argentina, Brazil, or Canada. Today, millions of their descendants still live in the country and can be found working in different industries.

Immigration law and policy

Articles 30 and 33 of the Mexican Constitution specify that anyone who is not Mexican by birth (being born in Mexico, of at least one Mexican parent or on a Mexican-flagged ship or airplane) or by naturalization is a foreigner. Article 33 stipulates that all foreigners have the same civil rights protections that Mexican nationals do in the country. cite book |title=How to Buy Real Estate in Mexico |last=Peyton |first=Dennis John |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2006 |publisher= Law Mexico Publishing |location=Chula Vista California |isbn=1-885328-27-3 |pages= |url= ]

There are three basic migratory visas for foreigners who wish to stay in Mexico. This first is a tourist visa called a FMT. For those looking to live in Mexico permanently or temporarily, There are the FM3 and the FM2. The FM3 is for those who wish to live in Mexico, but do not qualify as a long-term immigrant and are classed as "no inmigrante visitante" (visitor non-immigrant). There are various types of FM3 for professionals working in the country, exchange students and those living in Mexico but not working, such as retirees. The FM2 is for those classed as "inmigrante rentista" (longer term immigrant) and is similar to a United States Permanent Resident Card. For those carrying either of these visas, economic activities are strictly limited to those authorized by the document cite book |title=Live Better South of the Border in Mexico: Practical Advice for Living and Working |last=Nelson|first="Mexico" Mike |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2000 |publisher= Fulcrum Publishing |location=Golden Colorado |isbn= |pages=6-10 |url= ]

Mexicans have priority over foreigners under equality of circumstances for all classes of concessions and for all employment, positions, or commissions of the Government in which the status of citizenship is not indispensable. Foreigners can serve in the military only during wartime. [ 1917 Constitution of Mexico, Title I, Chapter IV] ]

Only Mexicans by birth or naturalization and Mexican companies have the right to acquire ownership of lands, waters, and their appurtenances, or to obtain concessions for the exploitation of mines or of waters. [ 1917 Constitution of Mexico, Title I, Chapter I] ] The Mexican government may grant this right to foreigners if they agree before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to invoke the protection of their own governments in any matters relating to the property they wish to buy. This is known as the Calvo Clause. This is generally done via a permit process. The 1917 Mexican constitution imposed restrictions on the purchase of land on those without Mexican citizenship. In particular, it prohibits direct ownership of real estate in what is known as the "restricted zone". This zone encompasses all land within 100 km of either Mexican land border and within 50 km of any Mexican coastline. Land 'purchases' in these areas can only be done via a mechanism called a "fideicomiso", which roughly is a real estate trust, with a Mexican bank designated as the trustee and having possession of the land title. This mechanism was created to allow for foreign investment in these areas without violating the constitutional principle. The beneficiary of the trust, the foreigner, has all the rights to use, build and sell the property at its market buyer to any eligible buyer. These trusts have a term of 50 years and are renewable.

Immigrant groups in Mexico

Americans (U.S.)

The largest number of Americans outside the United States live in Mexico. According to American Citizens Abroad, there are more than 1,000,000 Americans living in Mexico. (as of 1999). [ American Citizens Abroad] ] However, this number is disputed. Some estimates put the number as low as 124, 082. There are no reliable statistics from either the U.S. or Mexican governments as of 2002, at least. cite web |url= |title= Question Revisited: How Many Americans Live in Mexico? |author= Bill Masterson |accessdate=2008-08-13 ]


There are currently over 55,000 Argentine [ ArgenMex, "Clarín" (in Spanish)] ] expatriates living in the country, mostly in Mexico City. Aside from the expatriates, there are also Mexican-born citizens of Argentine descent.


French is also heard in the state of Veracruz in the cities of Jicaltepec, San Rafael, Mentideros, and Los Altos, where the architecture and food is also very FrenchFact|date=February 2008. These immigrants came from Haute-Saône département in France, especially from Champlitte and Bourgogne. Another important French group were the "Barcelonettes" from the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence département, who migrated specifically to Mexico to find jobs and work in merchandising and are well known in Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz and YucatanFact|date=May 2008. Another important French village in Mexico is Santa Rosalía in Baja California Sur, where French language and culture/architecture are still foundFact|date=May 2008 The legacy of settlers brought in during the Napoleonic-era French occupation is found in Guadalajara, JaliscoFact|date=May 2008. The Second Mexican Empire, created another trend of refugeFact|date=May 2008. For the Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico from the Hapsburg dynasty brought with him French, Austrian, and Belgian troops, and after the fall of the Second Empire, most scattered through the area of the EmpireFact|date=May 2008. The descendants of these soldiers can be found in the state of Jalisco in the region called Los Altos de Jalisco and in many towns around this region and in Michoacan in cities like Coalcoman, Aguililla, Zamora, and CotijaFact|date=May 2008. These refugees intermixed with the Austrians, Galicians, Basques, Cantabrians, Italians, and Mexicans in those areas of Michoacan and Jalisco as well as neighboring statesFact|date=May 2008. The Belgians, started by the veteran Ch. Loomans, tried to establish a Belgian colony in the state of Chihuahua called Nueva Bélgica, and hundreds of Belgian settlers established it, but many moved to the capital of the state and other towns around the area, where Walloon and French could be heardFact|date=May 2008.


There are roughly 300,000 Mexicans of Irish descentFact|date=May 2008. Many Mexican Irish communities existed in Mexican Texas until the revolutionFact|date=May 2008. Many Irish then sided with Catholic Mexico against Protestant pro-US elementsFact|date=May 2008. The Batallón de San Patricio, a battalion of U.S. troops who deserted and fought alongside the Mexican Army against the United States in the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848Fact|date=May 2008. In some cases, Irish immigrants or Americans left from California (the Irish Confederate army of Fort Yuma, Arizona during the U.S. Civil War in 1861)Fact|date=May 2008. Álvaro Obregón (O'Brien) was president of Mexico during 1920-24 and Ciudad Obregón and its airport are named in his honor. Actor Anthony Quinn is another famous Mexican of Irish descent. There are also monuments in Mexico City paying tribute to those Irish who fought for Mexico in the 1800sFact|date=May 2008.

There is also an Irish-Mexican population in Hidalgo and the northern statesFact|date=May 2008.


There has not been a huge influx of Italians to Mexico, as there has been to other countries in America such as Argentina, Brazil and the United States, however, there was an important number of arrivals from Northern Italy and Veneto in the late 19th century and are today well assimilated in Mexican societyFact|date=May 2008. The exact number of Italian descendants is not known, but it is estimated that there around 30,000 Italian Mexicans in the eight original communitiesFact|date=May 2008.


Mexico is home to roughly 50,000 JewsFact|date=February 2007. This is the third largest Jewish community in Latin America, after Argentina and Brazil respectively, and fifteenth largest in the world. The community includes an about even number of Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardi Jews, and a tiny number of other Jewish groups, including Mizrahim. The two main groups arrived in distinct waves of immigration commencing from the earliest years of Spanish colonization of Mexico. Some of these earliest Jewish immigrants to Mexico were Sephardic crypto-Jews, also known as "marranos". They were Jews who made a nominal conversion to Christianity to escape persecution of the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions, some of who practiced the Jewish religion in secret.

After World War II, thousands of Ashkenazi Jewish refugees settled in Mexico from Europe, bringing with them Yiddish. Since they came from various parts of Europe their dialects varied. Ladino is the traditional language of the Sephardic community. Other Jewish languages are the traditional languages of any other Jewish persons not belonging to the two major groups in Mexico today.

Monterrey's Jewish community is the eldest of the Jewish communities, maintaining its Sephardic traditions since colonial times when they escaped from the Inquisition. The gastronomy of the state, even the rate of circumcision, reflects the Jewish heritage in Monterrey.

Notable Jewish-Mexicans include:
*Marcos Moshinsky, physicist
*Frida Kahlo, painter (Jewish father)


Spaniards make up the largest group of Europeans in Mexico. Most of them arrived during the colonial period but others have since then immigrated, especially during the Spanish Civil WarFact|date=May 2008. There are about 9-15 million people of unmixed Spanish ancestry and millions more with partial ancestryFact|date=May 2008.

The first Spaniards who arrived in Mexico, were soldiers and sailors of Extremadura, Andalucia and La Mancha discovered the Yucatan Peninsula, the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and then made the conquest of what they call the New Spain. Among the soldiers sent by the Spanish crown to the colonial territory were Muslims converts from Cordoba and GranadaFact|date=May 2008. At the end of the sixteenth century, both common and aristocrat people migrated to Mexico and disseminated by its territoryFact|date=May 2008.

Most recent immigrants came during Spanish civil war. Some of the migrants returned to Spain after the civil war, but some of them remained in MexicoFact|date=May 2008.


There are about 10,000 Russians in Mexico Fact|date=November 2007. Most left Russia during its communist regime, taking advantage of the Mexican law allowing migrants from communist countries refuge if they touch Mexican soil, and the ability to become legal residents of Mexico Fact|date=November 2007.


A similar case is that of the Plautdietsch language, spoken by the descendants of German and Dutch Mennonite immigrants in the states of Chihuahua and Durango. Other German communities lie in Puebla, Mexico City, Sinaloa and Chiapas, with the largest German school outside of Germany being in Mexico City (Alexander von Humboldt school). These represent the large German populations where they still try to preserve the German culture (evident in its popular regional polka-like music types, "conjunto" and "Norteno") and language. Other strong German communities lie in Nuevo Leon, Chiapas (Tapachula) and other parts of Puebla (Nuevo Necaxa) where the German culture and language have been preserved to different extents.

Many German settlements were started in MexicoFact|date=May 2008. In some, like that of Sisal, Yucatan, El Mirador, Veracruz, and another in the state of Tamaulipas, you can still find their descendants. Many have gained their German citizenship but prefer to remain in Mexico, though they still retain their Germanic culture in many waysFact|date=May 2008. The most successful of these German colonies was Soconusco where Tapachula is located in the southern state of Chiapas. In Nueva Alemania, there are houses of German settlers who came from northern Germany, mainly from Hamburg, Bremen, and LubeckFact|date=May 2008. On the other hand, Germans from Veracruz came from BavariaFact|date=May 2008. Another example of Black Forest architecture is the building of the German Cultural Center in San Luis Potosi, which was owned by the Baron of Baden-BadenFact|date=May 2008. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox is partly of German ancestry. His paternal grandfather, José Luis Fox Flach, was born Joseph Louis Fuchs in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, son of German Catholic immigrants Louis Fuchs and Catherina Elisabetha Flach. The Fuchs ('fox' in German) family changed the spelling of their last name to Fox after 1870Fact|date=June 2008.

Scandinavian and Eastern European

Scandinavian languages and traditions can also be heard in Chihuahua, such as Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian in Nueva Escandinavia and other Scandinavian colonies in the north of the country. Russian is heard in the Baja California region of Valle de Guadalupe, thanks to the immigrants from southern Russia who settled these areas. They are the Molokans ("milk eaters"), and they preserve their culture in Baja California, with the architecture in their houses and museums, they produce fine wine (along with the large Italian community that lives near them) and their language and traditions, as well as dresses and festivities. Other Russians belong to a more recent wave of immigration from mainly Russia, Poland and the Ukraine along with other Eastern Europeans (Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania), who settle mainly in Mexico City years ago during the Cold War.

=The British=

Cornish culture still survives in local architecture and food in the state of HidalgoFact|date=May 2008. The Scottish and Welsh have also made their mark in Mexico, especially in the states of Hidalgo, Aguascalientes, and VeracruzFact|date=May 2008. British immigrants formed the first football teams in Mexico in the late 19th centuryFact|date=May 2008. Northern Spaniards of Celt ancestry like the Asturians, Galicians, and Cantabrians, have also left an imprint in Mexican culture and their languages formed many distinct accents in various regions in Mexico, especially in the central and northern statesFact|date=May 2008.

Middle Eastern

The wave of Middle-Easterners, which included Armenians, Lebanese, and Syrians, came to Mexico in the early twentieth century and settled mainly in urban areas in Baja California and Sinaloa.Fact|date=May 2008 Ethnologue reports that 400,000 Mexicans speak Arabic. [ Ethnologue: Mexico] ]

The Lebanese in particular have settled in the urban areas such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and PueblaFact|date=May 2008. The state of Coahuila in the north has a very diverse Middle Eastern population, including not only Christians but also Muslims from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and JordanPPfact. Other immigrants, in this case predominantly Muslims, included those from Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The city of Torreon hosts the only Mosque in Mexico due to the notable number of Middle-Eastern Muslims that have settled thereFact|date=May 2008.

After World War II some Jewish immigrants arrived in Mexico from various countries of the Near East, bringing with them their own traditions and languages. Very few, however, were actually Mizrahi JewsFact|date=May 2008. Since they came from various parts of North Africa and the Middle East (including Turkey) with a history of Spanish Jewish settlement after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, most were in fact Sephardic JewsFact|date=May 2008. Thus, most had Ladino as their traditional language, and the existing Sephardic and general Mexican Jewish community accepted them with open armsFact|date=May 2008. The Jewish communities in Mexico are generally prosperousFact|date=May 2008. "See also "Jews" section above."

Carlos Slim Helú is the best-known Mexican of this immigrant group. His parents immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon.


Other Asian groups known to introduce their languages and cultures to Mexico are Iranians, East Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Japanese and VietnameseFact|date=May 2008. The majority of them live in urban areas or along the US-Mexican border, probably in attempt to enter and reside in the USFact|date=May 2008. The city of Mexicali in Baja California has the largest Chinese population in Mexico and the largest Chinatown called la ChinescaFact|date=May 2008. The culture and language from the mainly Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking peoples are evident in the food, architecture, and everyday life in Mexico CityFact|date=May 2008. The Chinese entered the nation in the nineteenth century to build railroads, and many xenophobic acts were taken against them because Mexico preferred European immigrantsFact|date=May 2008. The Japanese community is also important in Mexico, and they reside mainly in Mexico City, Morelia, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Guadalajara, and Aguascalientes, and their immigrant colony in the state of Chiapas called Colonia EnomotoFact|date=May 2008. The Japanese are very important in their cultural life in Mexico and many institutions for their descendants and those wishing to learn the language and their ways of life can attend these lyceumsFact|date=May 2008. Koreans are a more recent wave of immigrants who came to Mexico in the early 1900s and most recently towards the end of the last century. There are approximately 200,000 (0.2%) Mexican people who can partly claim Filipino ancestryFact|date=May 2008. From colonial times the Philippines have had a close connection to Mexico, as it was administrated from New Spain for over 300 years, and commerce between these two countries was of an extremely significant importance to the Spanish crownFact|date=May 2008.


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