I am now in Mexico City, staying with a family friend in Xocimilco and looking for sources for the book. I´m trying to get interviews with some Mexican government officials about the two sides of the marital immigration equation: the presence of Americans here in Mexico because of their inability to legalize in the U.S. and the struggle for Mexicans in the U.S. to obtain visas through their American spouses. I´ve gotten much farther with the Instituto Nacional de Inmigracion, which issues visas to travel and work in Mexico, but I´m also trying to speak with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which aids in the protection of migrants abroad, largely through the Mexican consulates all across the U.S.
While I´m here, I am trying to contact American clubs and associations in Mexico City and academics at the Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico. The only problem I´m having is a lack of wi-fi (and figuring out certain punctuation on Spanish keyboards).
Wi-fi is everywhere, but many networks, both open networks and places like this library that provide passwords, do not have stable connections to the internet. I even paid for a month of Boingo wi-fi access but it has not helped me, failing in the airports in Juarez and Monterrey and Queretero, where I expected it to work.
I might have to go to McDonalds or Starbucks, even though I hate to do it. Sanborns, a chain of Mexican breakfast places/coffee shops also has wi-fi, which I am going to check out first. I went to a Pollo Feliz, which is owned by my host´s family, but no one knew the wi-fi password there this morning.
But more importantly, I´m still working out what I want to know about the Mexican perspective on bi-national couples. One thing is already clear: Mexicans “get it” much more rapidly than Americans when I attempt to explain the book. A few nights ago I was in the little town of Santa Gertrudis in the state of Michoacan [that is an awesome link, there, by the way]. We went to get tacos at 9 or 10 at night and there were a bunch of folks sitting around under the bright lights drinking beers and eating tripe. I just started talking about the plight of Americans who marry undocumented Mexican immigrants and they started gossipping about all of their friends. (While we sat there, trucks with license plates from Idaho, California and Illinois drove by.) The women all knew people with American spouses living here and there (acá y allá). They even told me to go out to an indigenous Purépecha village to find some mixed-status couples.
In the U.S. when I talk about the book, people are not aware that there are any issues with immigrating a spouse.
So I want to ask Mexican officials about options for spouses of Mexican citizens living here in Mexico, about the demographics of the returned Mexican population (through either forced of self-deportation) with strong ties to the U.S. and about Mexican foreign policy toward U.S. immigration affairs.
Last time I was here I was affiliated with Knight-Ridder and had some pull to arrange interviews. This time it´s like pulling teeth, but it is still fun to try.