Policy Lessons from the Mexican American Experience, 1848 to the Present
Nandinee K. Kutty
February 1, 2008
The historical experience of Mexican Americans from 1848 till the present period provides a rich understanding of this large and growing segment of the U.S. population, and suggests several useful public policy lessons. These lessons can help us design appropriate policies to create a more inclusive nation with equal access to economic and social opportunities for all groups. This paper reviews the experience of Mexican Americans since 1848, when the U.S. acquired huge territories from Mexico and also acquired the formerly Mexican population that stayed on in these territories. The experiences of Mexican Americans in terms of their property rights, access to business and economic opportunities, access to housing and education, their experience of immigration, and their treatment in general society are reviewed. Policy lessons in each of these categories are outlined. It is seen that the historical experience of Mexican Americans is salient in understanding many of the challenges that this group presently faces, and in designing policies for the economic and social advancement of this ethnic group. A chief policy lesson is that fair treatment with respect to property rights, access to housing, access to education, and access to municipal services (including law enforcement) is essential to ensuring that Mexican Americans achieve their full human potential and value as contributing members of U.S. society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 60
Keywords: Mexican Americans, public policy, economic mobility, immigration
JEL Classification: J15, J78, K4, Z10, J61, J68, R21, R23, R58, N31
Date posted: February 19, 2008