Welcome to your directory of immigrating to Mexico
For a Mexico-residing U.S.-born author's documented analysis of Mexico's (comparatively very strict) immigration laws relative to the USA's, please feel free to visit here... Additionally, here is an interesting article maintained online which also compares immigration laws of the two countries. Additionally there is an attorney-authored comparison of the U.S.A.'s immigration laws to those of the rest of the world here. Meanwhile, here is a former legislative bill in the U.S. Congress that purported to make the USA's immigration laws more like Mexico's highly anti-gringo ones. How would it be unfair of the USA if it reciprocated by becoming as strict as neighboring Mexico regarding immigration? Is it not remarkable how much less national debt Mexico has than the USA, even when adjusting for each nation's particular gross domestic products?
Anyhow, below is a NONpropietary documented list
of some noteworthy differences between Mexico's and the USA's immigration
regulatory legal schemes. Please feel free to use its contents in any altruistic
way that you like. The contents of this article do not always necessarily
reflect the views of those who run this Mexico directory, but
the desire for prosperity in Mexico is shared by all who are involved in
maintaining both this directory and the following legal analysis.
As a preface, there are probably under 100,000 U.S. born nonhispanic American citizens in Mexico and by some estimates as many as 20 million Mexico-born Mexicans in the USA. If the following anti-immigrant restrictions in Mexico are finally reformed so that Mexico's laws became nearly as "friendly" to foreigners as the USA's already are, would Mexico (with its consequently increasing investment and access to new ideas) still need to send so many of its people to sadly serve in menial tasks abroad? Everyone involved with maintaining these directories and this article loves and admires the Mexican people (for better or for worse), and that is precisely why we have decided to maintain this informative list...
*** 1) U.S. citizens in Mexico still cannot own property within 50 kilometers of the coasts or within 100 kilometers of the border withOUT having to go through the mysterious and at times unpredictable bureaucracy involving fideicomisos (trusts). To confirm this, see article 2 clause VI of Mexico's Ley de Inversión Extranjera / Foreign Investment Law:
Mexican laws mentioned on this page are available in other formats, too, at:
Anyhow, we are not aware that such an anti-immigrant restriction exists in the USA for Mexicans who are not U.S. citizens. We are aware, however, of cases involving U.S. Citizens who lost valuable property in Mexican states such as Chiapas and Baja California because of this discriminatory real estate legal scheme.
Incidentally, some in Mexico justify this discriminatory restriction on land-ownership by citing to how they lost territory in the past and had to repel foreign invasions. Did the USA not permanently lose considerable territory, for example, to Canada and Britain during the War of 1812 though? Nevertheless the USA does not impose any such land-ownership restrictions on people from foreign countries, does it? Meanwhile, did the U.S.A. not endure attacks waged from abroad during years such as (but not limited to) 1941 and 2001? And did you know that reportedly half of those arrested during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles back in 1992 were illegals from México? Many of those are now land-owners in the USA's coastal region even as law-abiding nonhispanic U.S. citizens in México may not be the same. Is this double-standard fair?
In moving along:
*** 2) Mexicans, and people of Mexican parentage may become dual citizens of Mexico and the USA. Nevertheless, U.S. citizens who are NOT of Mexican descent are still prohibited from becoming citizens of Mexico, unless they are willing to formally and fraudulently represent that they have renounced their U.S. citizenship. To confirm this, please see articles 17 & 19 of Mexico's Ley de Nacionalidad:
Is such officially sanctioned racism fair? Incidentally, such
renouncement-related fraud is potentially grounds for both deportation from
Mexico and possible legal problems in the U.S.A…
At the very least, rights to own beach or frontier zone property are limited for an American citizen who has lived for decades in Mexico but who has understandably NOT renounced his or her U.S. citizenship. By the way, Article 20 I c) is an example of how Mexico gives preferential treatment to folks from Latin American nations or the Spanish peninsula when awarding nationality status to them versus their "gringo" competitors, despite the existence of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The contrast with U.S. law is documented somewhat by the U.S. State Department here where dual nationality is addressed:
How is this somehow not racist of Mexico's government?
*** 3) A U.S. citizen who is not of Hispanic descent and who therefore cannot simultaneously be legally recognized as a Mexican citizen cannot legally vote in Mexico. He or she also cannot be immuned from a sudden, abruptly imposed permanent deportation [without a hearing, in fact] for the opportunistically vague crime of getting involved somehow in political matters, or of being considered "inconvenient" for Mexico. One can confirm this political restriction's existence by consulting Mexico's Constitutional Article #33 at:
Does this not leave you feeling rather speechless (literally)? Similarly:
***4) Does Mexico allow foreign-born citizens to hold truly significant governmental posts? The answer is generally no, especially if they are of non-Mexican ancestry and if they want to maintain dual citizenship elsewhere. In contrast, the U.S.A. has allowed various foreigners to hold truly prominent federal and gubernatorial offices without requiring that they renounce their citizenship abroad. Among them are Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Speaking of political contrasts, have you noticed how some have sued to block voter identification requirements in the USA and decried them as racist, while conveniently pretending that they do not exist in neighboring Mexico? Here is an interesting meme that we have seen in U.S. cyberspace, however...
***6) At least as of fairly recently, the U.S. Treasury Department still accepted the Mexican consulate-issued matricula card for undocumented Mexicans living illegally in the U.S.A. Many U.S. banks lawfully accepted them too in order to tap into the flow of some of the finite supply of dollars that Mexicans send out of our country. Nevertheless, what acceptance does Mexico and its own banks offer for foreigners who have not yet successfully navigated Mexico's immigration system? It is incomparable.
***7) Mexico's Immigration Institute often delays Americans' visa renewals for what one can politely describe as some of the most difficult to comprehend reasons, thereby forcing immigrants to stay in the country until they resolve matters. For example, at least sometimes the Institute officially gives rejection responses which do NOT list all problems with Americans' renewal applications. Instead, the process is sometimes handled in piecemeal fashion. Then, after the initially reported problem is hopefully resolved, Americans subsequently have to go through much of the submission process again, which could be expedited if the Mexican government would simply report everything that a renewal application is lacking in the INITIAL reply. Although some Mexican Immigration apologists might try and defensively claim that subsequent reported problems are contingent upon foreigners' resolution of initial ones, such that the piecemeal response approach supposedly could not be avoided, this "excuse" is NOT factually sufficient. Matters that have nothing to do with one another are at times used as obstacles on separate occasions, instead of simultaneously. Does the USA put Mexicans through such hurdles nearly as often (if at all) though? Meanwhile is this not a thinly veiled endeavor by the Mexican government to make it harder for immigrants in Mexico?
***8) By the time an American has complied with Mexico's
immigration hurdles, he or she has practically no privacy left. Worse still,
his or her information becomes potentially available to people in the business
world who are particularly interested in obtaining it. Are safeguards regarding
confidential information not a great deal stronger inside of the U.S.A.'s
immigration department? Arguably they are.
We do not doubt that there are also other significant, effectively "anti-gringo" legal differences regarding foreigners in our two countries. Meanwhile, here are some additional facts worth considering:
***9) Self-serving conflicts of interest exist with Mexico's immigration agency. Indeed, in November of 1998 a public protest among Immigration workers in Mexico City took place because fines ("multas") waged against (U.S.) Americans in Mexico were no longer getting shared with the employees who were SIMULTANEOUSLY supposed to offer RELIABLE advice to foreigners so that they could avoid being fined in the first place. We do not know how this labor dispute was resolved but we would not be surprised if the same conflict of interest endures there nowadays, too. In the U.S.A., do such fines paid not go directly to the U.S. Treasury instead of essentially directly to the immigration employees who are SUPPOSED to want U.S. citizens to know how to AVOID being fined?
***10) "Coyotes" are Mexicans who specialize in handling foreigners´ paperwork with Mexico's immigration agency, and they share bounties with the immigration officials in various subtle ways (especially at restaurants and night clubs as this article's attorney author has personally observed). To say the least, this collaboration feeds the perception that conflicts of interest abound among immigration officials who might OTHERWISE make things less complicated for (U.S.) Americans in Mexico.
*** 11) There are as many as 20 million Mexico-born Mexicans living in the USA (if not more). In contrast, although Mexican immigration officials claim that plenty of > U.S.-born < U.S. citizens reside in Mexico, we have not seen credible proof of this. We tend to believe that there are fewer than 100,000 (yes, one hundred thousand or less) U.S.-born, nonhispanic U.S. citizens living in Mexico. A 500,000 estimate has been floated around, supposedly by the U.S. State Department and the Census Bureau, but that figure reportedly includes plenty of U.S. citizens who were actually born in Mexico and later benefited from the U.S.A.'s already very permissive immigration & dual citizenship laws. Generally speaking, reportedly nearly 20% of the USA's human inhabitants are foreign-born whereas in Mexico it's under 1%.
Mexico nevertheless demands immigration amnesty in the U.S.A. even as Mexico still won't make its own laws even as hospitable to foreigners as California's Proposition 187 referendum still would have been to Mexicans back during 1994. Of course, subsequently a U.S. federal judge basically nullified Prop. 187 after Mexicans peculiarly called that *Mexican American-supported* referendum "racist". What do they consider their own immigration laws in Mexico to be, then? And what is their response when asked what they think of how reportedly half of those arrested during the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles 2 years before were actually illegals from México?
Do Mexico's government's immigration reform demands of the USA not reflect a double standard, given that government's apparent lack of demonstrated interest in making Mexico's immigration laws nearly as hospitable to foreigners as the USA's already are? Don't some ranking members of Mexico's government not agree that the government there should do more for its people by finally addressing its problems involving monopolies in important Mexican sectors? Wouldn't Mexico's governent's finally addressing legal shortcomings such as these help elevate Mexico's annual GDP per capita figure to more closely resemble the USA's?
We would like nothing better for our beloved friends in the USA's neighboring trading partner of Mexico than to see them get to leave their country only when they truly want to, instead of out of economic desperation as is still too often the case due to the predictable lack of jobs in Mexico resulting from its hostile environment for foreign investors. Is Mexico's governmental administration doing nearly enough to help Mexico's people though? And why did fewer than fifty thousand Mexicans residing in the USA even bother to register to vote (through absentee ballot) in the July 2006 Mexican federal elections, as Mexico's disappointed federal electoral institute can sadly confirm? Is it not a popular saying in Mexico that "the people have the government that they deserve"? Is the USA not weakening potential reformers in Mexico by offering a relatively unconditional safety valve through which oligarchs and certain government officials down there can still rapidly discard the people whom they have enduringly neglected? Mexico has its impressive share of inspired and talented patriotic reformers whom many Americans would be proud to call their own fellow countrypersons. However, "stress is the mother of innovation" and the substantial availability of such a safety valve to the USA undermines such aspiring reformers' endeavors in Mexico. Does the entire North American region not suffer as a result? Might the most humane approach to this problem be to empower such admirable and noble Mexican reformers in Mexico by applying U.S. immigration laws better in the USA and even making them more like Mexico's? We predict that the resulting reforms in Mexico would empower Mexicans and make further mass-immigration movements northward unnecessary. Can you imagine what a wonderful trading partner the USA's Southern neighbor could then increasingly become?
Incidentally, here is Mexico's immigration institute online:
In conclusion, as ironic as this may sound, wouldn't it help Mexico become much stronger and Mexicans there become much wealthier and happier if the following authorities & organizations in the USA focused more on this article's sort of contents and less on supporting sad traditions (that have unfortunately plagued nearly every nation) such as fomenting anti-immigrant rhetoric?
In no way do any of us advocate Mexico-bashing or anti-immigrant sentiment. No country is perfect and neighbors can be wonderfully insightful & helpful critics. We simply advocate greater understanding of the facts and relevant laws for discussion in the media, in official debate forums and wherever else these matters can serve the common good. We would love to see Mexico someday achieve its impressive potential in the emerging global marketplace. Mexico will apparently continue to under-achieve, though, until it reforms its anti-gringo immigration laws which currently scare away foreign investment and other sources of potentially increased efficiency.
Please feel free to share this entire page's contents with whomever you like, too. It is public domain information and is maintained here for the common good (especially that of Mexico).
To return to our cover page: