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BOOK REVIEW 4. “Mexico’s Integral Consular Management in the United States” (Chpt. 6) of Mexican Consular Diplomacy in Trump’s Era.
In this post I analyze the chapter “Mexico´s Integral Consular Management in the United States” written by Francisco Javier Díaz de León and Víctor Peláez Millán of the book La Diplomacia Consular Mexicana en los tiempos de Trump (Mexican Consular Diplomacy in Trump´s era).
In this chapter, Díaz de León and Peláez Millán evaluate Mexico’s comprehensive consular administration in the United States. They conclude that even though it has been able to face challenges and adapt to new circumstances, it lacks a long-term strategic vision.
The chapter is divided into three sections:
In the first section, Díaz de León and Peláez Millán analyze the political context and the Mexican community’s conditions during Donald Trump’s presidency. They highlight the permanent fear experienced by Mexicans, particularly those undocumented, as a result of the aggressive Anti-immigrant and Anti-Mexican rhetoric and policies, at all levels, including some segments of U.S. society.
The authors identify the “legitimacy of bullying” against Mexicans across the nation, starting from the White House. Following the President’s lead, many local, county, and state authorities and politicians presented anti-immigrant actions to curb immigration.
Simultaneously, the authors indicate that “the Mexican diaspora is not alone; it has the support of a wide range of organizations and collaboration networks of civil rights and pro-immigration groups, legal representation, community development, [and] educational, health and financial services providers…”[i] This support is the result of the work of the 50 Mexican consulates that, since 1990, included community affairs activities to the traditional protection and documentation services.[ii]
Recognizing this new situation, in early 2017, the government of Mexico authorized more than 50 million dollars to implement the new strategy entitled Fortalecimiento para la Atención a Mexicanos en Estados Unidos (Strengthened Assistance to Mexicans in the United States), also referred to as FAMEU. Its objective was to support the Mexican community in the United States during these trying times.[iii]
Some of the strategy results in 2017 were the establishment of the Centros de Defensoría (Legal Defense Centers) that provided advice to more than 580,000 people and offered legal assistance and representation to 29,000 Mexicans.[iv]
Besides, the Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM), Mexico’s 24 hours consular assistance calling center, received nearly 300,000 phone calls, and the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera (Financial Advice Desk) benefitted more than 124,000 Mexicans.[v]
2. Integral Consular Diplomacy Management.
In the chapter’s second part, Díaz de León and Peláez Millán explain that the consulates of Mexico have a comprehensive work that includes three areas: protection, documentation services, and community affairs, also know as the consular tripod.
The authors incorporate to the concept of Mexico’s Consular Diplomacy additional objectives: improve the Mexican community’s well-being and promote their empowerment and inclusion to the host society.[vi] This is an extra element to the Consular Diplomacy ideas that Daniel Hernández Joseph and Reyna Torres Mendivil present in their book’s respective chapters.
Díaz de León and Peláez Millán explain that in recent years, the consular network executed an innovation process to improve the quality of its services.[vii] Some of the results were:
Nevertheless, the authors recognize lagging areas, such as training, budget planning, computing equipment, and administrative systems’ reengineering.[ix]
Díaz de León and Peláez Millán state that it is indispensable to identify ways to improve and maximize the use of available resources in addition to work with new partners. It will allow the consulates to respond to the immediate needs of the Mexican community while focusing on the strategic goal of promoting their empowerment and integration.[x]
3. Areas of opportunities: Strategic Vision of Mexico’s comprehensive consular management.
Regarding areas of opportunities, the authors of the chapter distinguish the following
a) Assuming a proactive role in the construction of a favorable ecosystem for the Mexican Diaspora.
b) Establishing a systematic outreach mechanism towards the 23 million Mexican-American.
c) Strengthening the consulate’s political activities that will add value to Mexico’s Consular Diplomacy.
The critical element is to incorporate these prospects and the consular services improvement process into a long-term strategic vision that will allow the consulate to achieve the overall foreign policy objectives proactively.
Díaz de León and Peláez Millán conclude that the Mexican community appreciates and trusts the Mexican consular network.[xi] Also, Mexico’s Consular Diplomacy enjoys “the legitimacy and credibility to confront the current challenges and take advantage of the opportunities, regardless of U.S. immigration policies and activities.”[xii] Its most significant challenge is to develop a far-reaching plan to benefit the Mexican community north of the border.
This reading is a valuable contribution to the concept of the Consular Diplomacy of Mexico as the authors incorporate the Mexican Community’s empowerment as one of its goals. It also poses two crucial questions: a) How to maximize available resources assigned to its consular network? b) How to attract other relevant actors to collaborate in these efforts? Their answer could be the path for the much needed long-term strategic vision.
Besides, it is also significant because Díaz de León and Peláez Millán identify three areas of opportunity which could be implemented to continue the transformation of the consular services and programs offered by Mexican consulates in the U.S.
[i] Díaz de León, Francisco Javier and Peláez Millán, Victor, “Mexico´s Integral Consular Management in the United States” in La Diplomacia Consular Mexicana en los tiempos de Trump, Rafael Fernández de Castro (coord.), Mexico, 2018, p. 131.
[ii] Ibid. p. 131.
[iv] Ibid. p. 132.
[v] Ibid. p. 133.
[vii] This is similar to other country´s consular services modernization initiatives, as referred by Heijmans, Maaike and Melissen, Jan, in Foreign Ministries and the Rising Challenge of Consular Affairs: Cinderella in the Limelight, Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, June 7, 2006, p. 7.
[viii] Ibid. p. 136.
[ix] Ibid. p. 137.
[x] Ibid. p. 137-138.
[xi] Ibid. p. 148.
[xii] Ibid. p. 147.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.