NAVARRETTE: Mexico's strained relations with its diaspora



In the United States, some on the nativist fringe suspect that Mexican-Americans are <i>reconquistas</i>.

As if we're agents of the Mexican government working quietly to undermine U.S. sovereignty in the Southwest and hasten the day when that real estate reverts to its previous owner. That's loco.

But here in the most populous city in North America, I've just heard a competing argument that is just as far-fetched. Some Mexican politicians and intellectuals now want to bestow another title upon the estimated 35 million Mexican-Americans who live north of the border: ambassador. They want us to represent Mexico, and its people, in the United States.

I've come to Mexico City as part of a delegation of Mexican-American and American Jewish leaders organized by the Latino and Latin American Institute of the American Jewish Committee, a global Jewish advocacy organization, with the goal of strengthening relations between Latinos and Jews in the United States.

Perhaps Mexicans view Jewish people as the model. They see American Jews advocating for Israel and sending millions of dollars to the Holy Land to build schools, museums and hospitals, and they want the same things from Mexican-Americans living in the United States. After all, they say, both groups are part of the diaspora — people forced to live outside their ancestral homeland who have historically been subject to prejudice.

Speaking of ancestral homelands, I've come back to the country where my grandfather was born — at almost the centennial of that destiny-altering moment when a young boy and his family crossed what was at the time little more than a line in the dirt and started a new chapter in the United States.

The hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who fled their country during the Mexican Revolution, from 1910 to 1920, weren't so much immigrants as refugees. Many of them didn't come just for better lives but, literally, to save their lives.

Now, as their children and grandchildren take their place in American society, some Mexicans are calling the new generations to come back — at least in spirit. They want Mexican-Americans to reconnect with Mexico.

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