Monday, February 9, 2009

Mexican vs. American Expatriates

During a recent internet search I stumbled upon some interesting articles discussing expatriates in Latin America and Mexico.  This got me wondering about how American expatriates are treated in Mexico, especially when they refuse to give up their U.S. citizenship. Do they get flown out by the masses like Mexicans who are found living illegally in the U.S.?  Or are they valued as contributors to the economy?

I found little documentation on Americans being deported, unless they were part of a crime ring, but I did find some things that indicates American expatriates are staking their territory in many areas South of the Border.  San Miguel De Allende, Mexico, for example, is a small town in the heart of Mexico.  So many Americans have come to call this city home they even have an English paper! Similarly, there are several papers that publish in Spanish and English in Tucson, Ariz. as well. La Estrella de Tucson is one example (I guess Mexican and American Expatriates have more in common than I thought!).

Heading further south into Latin America reveals that there are many Americans living outside of the U.S. The internet proves to be a valuable resource for people who are living out of the country and want to know where to go. Check out this housing guide for Brazil. There are hundreds of sites like this one dedicated to helping people assimilate into another culture.

The guides for Mexicans traveling to the U.S. lack the appeal of sites like Gringoes, creating a stark contrast between the two. In Guia del Migrante Mexicano (English: "Guide for the Mexican Immigrant"), a publication from the Mexican government, people crossing the border illegally are warned of the health risks involved. The book also advises readers of their legal rights in the U.S. The writing is aimed to discourage illegal border crossing and displays cartoon drawings of people struggling across rivers, rationing water, and walking in the desert.

In sum, there are some similarities between American and Mexican world travelers but the comforts of home don't seem to follow each individual. While some Americans have managed to create their own communities in Mexico and vise versa, the journey of getting there is very different depending on your country of origin. Mexican guides to getting to the U.S. almost scare their readers out of the journey while American guides to living South of the Border offer welcoming messages and list contacts to help ease the transition.

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