Title

Winning a battle, losing the war: migrant rights advocacy and its “influence” on the Mexican state

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Publication Title

Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Volume

42

Issue

1

First Page

17

Last Page

35

DOI

10.1080/08263663.2017.1281941

Keywords

Mexico, Central America, migration, human rights, activism, social movements, policy

Abstract

Social movement analysts have long recognized that it is not easy to assess outcomes of social activism since direct causality between activism and social, cultural, political, or legal changes is often difficult to trace. This article analyzes the complexities in evaluating the tangled relations between migrant rights activism and migration policy-making by drawing on insights from social movement theories and particularly the concepts of cognitive resonance and political opportunities. The case of Mexico’s civil society advocacy for the rights of Central American migrants and its impact on legal and administrative reforms provides an illustration of such a complex relationship. While admitting that civil society organizations contributed to certain migration reforms in Mexico, we suggest additional explanations for the Mexican state’s seeming openness to the demands advanced by pro-migrant civil society organizations. Furthermore, we argue that the Mexican state’s recent intensification of migration control, despite civil societies’ persistent criticisms, illustrates that, in fact, civil society organizations do not have much sway in shaping migration policies in this country.

Funding Reference Number

Social Science and Humanities Research Council