• José Ramón Santillán Buelna

10 trends on the Mexican inmigration in Spain after Covid-19

Actualizado: jul 7

The Observatory of Mexico in Spain (Obsmex)


Based on the results of studies and research reports that we carry out at the Observatorio de México (Obsmex), we present in this article 10 trends that will affect the panorama of the Mexican diaspora in Spain. These indicators analyze the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on economic activity, restrictions on mobility and the increase in the use of new technologies.


1. Unemployment

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused high unemployment rates in Spain, in February a little more than 4 million were counted without work and the hospitality industry is one of the most affected sectors. If in previous works of the Observatory we identified that one of the main activities carried out by Mexicans in Spain are microentrepreneurs in the hospitality industry, the pandemic is affecting the employment of freelancers and workers in Mexican food restaurants, or who have a place with the sale of products from the country. In recent months, many Mexicans, not only from the hospitality industry but also from public or private companies, have found themselves unemployed and with little prospect of finding a new job in the short or medium term.


2. Problems to renew the residence and work permit.

Many of the 7,638 Mexicans registered in the General Regime, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics for the year 2019, will have more difficulties in obtaining or renewing their residence and work permits. The economic crisis of the coronavirus is leaving many without a job or the difficulty of searching and not finding it, a necessary requirement to renew their papers. To these complications are added the slowdown of the Spanish Administration to manage the renewal of permits and that many of our countrymen are suffering, who without a valid card can be expelled, cannot get a formal job or rent a home. They are also not allowed to return to Spain if they need to travel.


3. Back to Mexico

Return is a possibility that is present in every person who starts a migration process. The pandemic has caused many Mexican residents to have been left without work and with few unemployment benefits, which makes them consider a return, if not immediate, then in the short term. For example, between 2008 and 2013, as a result of the economic crisis, more than 16,774 countrymen left Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics. With the Covid-19 that is having strong repercussions on employment, the forecasts are that many will return home.


4. The investment of SMEs is reduced and increases in large companies

Crises always weaken small companies and strengthen large ones; the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, which up to 2012 accounted for the closure of 177,336 companies, most of them SMEs and the investment of large foreign capital increased by 1.4% (according to a report by the ESADE). In this sense, the projections for the investments of large Mexican companies in Spain are positive. The acquisition of Iberian companies by Mexicans will increase, as occurred during the 2008 crisis. On the other hand, it is foreseen that many micro-entrepreneurs in the Mexican hospitality industry will close.


5. The birth of children of a Mexican mother or father will decrease.

If in the years 2005 to 2015 7,862 children with Mexican origins were born in Spain, the result of couples formed only by Mexicans, by binationals - Mexicans and Spaniards - and of compatriots with foreigners. The economic consequences of the pandemic: loss of employment, salary reduction, job uncertainty, difficulties in paying for an apartment or making ends meet, suggest that there will be fewer births of Spanish Mexicans or Mexican Spaniards.6. Fewer students and more virtual classes

The difficulty of the mobility of people from one country to another will reduce the number of students who will come to do master's or doctoral studies or an academic exchange. In the last decade, the data of the Immigration Portal of the Government of Spain showed an already downward trend, in 2008 there were 5,272 Mexicans with study authorization, in 2017 the figures dropped to 2,953, 44% less. Now, with the health emergency, the arrival of students will slow down even more, which will also affect the exchange of professors and researchers who came to Spain to carry out research stays. This situation encourages universities in both countries to opt for online classes, in the case of the Tecnológico de Monterrey campus Toluca and the University of Girona, which, through the virtual tool Global Classroom, students from both universities live the international educational experience from home.


7. Fewer tourists

Given the international travel restrictions, the arrival of Mexican tourists will be greatly reduced. In 2017, a total of 451,893 visited Spain. Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia and Galicia were the most visited communities. However, the forecasts for tourism from Mexico are negative, being limited by the lack of vaccination and the economic crisis that will affect the ability to travel to many Mexicans.


8. The impetus of migrants as ambassadors of the country brand

If due to the pandemic there will be less movement and flow of Mexicans to Spain, residents can be the best ambassadors of our country's image. As we pointed out in other studies, our resident community has characteristics of a qualified population - university, middle class - which makes them important actors in transmitting a positive image of the country. The Covid-19 crisis forces the design of a public diplomacy plan that considers residents as ambassadors for the Mexico brand.


9. Mexican culture in streaming and social networks

The pandemic has led to an extraordinary digital transformation that has increased the use of new technologies by many organizations. In the case of the Mexican diaspora, streaming and social networks increase the visibility of their work. For example, the Bibliomusicineteca, a cultural association led by Sonia García and which promotes Mexican talent from Barcelona in the form of conferences, book presentations, debates, musical concerts, has managed to make its activities that were previously only face-to-face and local, now use platforms like Facebook and Zoom to turn them into events that can be seen at any time and with international reach.


10. Empowerment of institutions and associations

One of the greatest novelties that the health crisis has brought related to Mexican associations is the empowerment of its institutions. If in the past decade the main role of groups was the dissemination of culture, in recent years there has been an increase in institutions and the constitution of networks with political, economic, academic, scientific and artistic implications that project a qualified diaspora and talented. The pandemic in Spain and its social impact has stimulated the participation of associations that are characterized by providing the Mexican community with the necessary tools to have visibility and active participation in the host society.


These 10 trends that we have just described as a consequence of the pandemic have opened new lines of research for the analysis of the Mexican community residing in Spain. They also invite us to rethink their impact on other migrant communities in Spain.


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