It’s destination Dallas for upwardly mobile Mexicans, who are strengthening their homeland’s economic ties with the U.S.
It's destination Dallas for upwardly mobile Mexicans, who are strengthening their homeland's economic ties with the U.S.
Alfredo Corchado and Obed Manuel
Houston Ship Channel
LAS COLINAS — On any given weekend, walk into the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Colinas and listen to the sound of Spanish spoken not by gardeners, or the wait staff, but by country club members.
“It’s like I never left Monterrey,” said David Benitez, president of Intelligent Mexican Marketing, a company responsible for popularizing products such as Barcel’s Takis snack foods, Gamesa cookies and Topo Chico mineral water in the U.S. “Monterrey came to Dallas.”
Benitez is among hundreds of thousands of the elite and upwardly mobile who have moved to the U.S. and are reshaping the image of the Mexican immigrant from construction and farm workers to high-powered executives and job creators. Over the past decade, Dallas has become a magnet for and harbinger of a new kind of Mexican migration — one that is key in deepening economic integration between the two countries in uncertain times.
“We’re in the midst of a turning point,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Institute and author of Vanishing Frontiers, a book that underscores the economic and cultural integration between the United States and Mexico. “We have more legal Mexican migration to the United States, which means higher-educated individuals. Some of it is driven because of the economic integration going on between the United States and Mexico, but especially Mexico and Texas, and some of it is driven by security concerns in Mexico. A lot of them are business owners, especially from Monterrey; hence the Monterrey-North Texas connection.”
The transformation comes at a time when undocumented migration from Mexico is at an all-time low. Border apprehensions of Mexicans have fallen from a peak of 1.6 million in 2000 to fewer than 175,000 this year.
The elite newcomers’ profile contrasts with that of their predecessors, whose labor helped build some of the most iconic landmarks in North Texas, from DFW International Airport to the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
The upwardly mobile Mexicans cross with legal documents, often special investor visas. Some are citizens of two countries, more educated, with deeper pockets and a craving for fine things in life, from weekends at the country club to museums and fine dining. And they’re generating jobs.
In short, said Francisco de la Torre, Mexican consul general in Dallas, “Mexican companies don’t come to Texas to fill a job. They’re here to create jobs.”