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Will Ex-Mexicans Choose America’s Next President?

Among the many surprises during the Republican Party presidential candidates’ debates a couple of weeks ago was the rekindled importance of immigration. After the failure of President George W. Bush’s and Senator Edward Kennedy’s comprehensive immigration reform effort last spring, most observers thought the matter would remain dormant until 2009, since even touching it was potentially fatal for Democrats and Republicans alike. But as Democrats discovered in other recent debates, and as Republicans realized with a little help from the CNN organizers, who skewed the questions toward issues they feel strongly about, immigration is an issue that just won’t go away.

This is one reason why I wrote a short but – I hope – useful book on Mexican immigration to the United States, entitled Ex-Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants . Based on internal documents from the Mexican and US governments, countless interviews, and a survey of much of the existing literature on the subject, Ex-Mex seeks to fulfill three purposes.

First, I wanted to provide a Mexican voice in the immigration debate. Mexicans make up more than half of the flow and stock – legal or not – of all immigrants in the US, but a point of view attempting to reflect their interests and aspirations has been largely absent from the American discussion.

Of course, my book cannot be the Mexican stance. But an assessment from the vantage point of past, current, and future Mexican immigrants to the US is a necessary component of the American debate – all the more so when one recalls that immigration has, in fact, not generally been exclusively a domestic US policy question.