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Mexico holds presidential elections this year, and voters in Dallas could hold the key

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: January 7, 2018

Luisa del Rosal is executive director of the Tower Center at SMU and founding executive director of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center on its campus.

Mexico’s presidential election this year is expected to be violent, dirty and fiercely combative, with high stakes on both sides of the border, including in North Texas.

Dallas has the second-largest number of Mexicans registered to vote in the July contest, trailing only Los Angeles and surpassing Chicago, Houston and New York City, according to Mexico’s National Electoral Institute, or INE. The number of registered voters (55,473) represents a surprising surge in the North Texas region, which historically has taken a back seat to Houston — and its vast energy sector — in terms of economic importance to Mexico.

More than half a million Mexicans living in the United States have applied for the voter ID credentials that would allow them to vote in the July 1 presidential election. That’s six times higher than the last election in 2012 and the highest number recorded since 2006, when the vote abroad was granted, according to INE. The deadline to register is March 31.

The presidential race is expected to be close and contentious, and votes from abroad could play a crucial role in determining the outcome,  according to election experts. The election comes during a tense time for Mexico-U.S. relations, with President Donald  Trump’s call for a border wall and the North American Free Trade Agreement’s uncertain future creating ripple effects for the more than 35 million Americans with roots in Mexico.

“We are seeing the culmination of a growing trend that started years ago,” said Francisco de la Torre, the Mexican consul general in Dallas. “That is that more and more Mexicans in North Texas are people who follow binational lives and have big stakes on both sides of the border. We won’t know what the scope of this will be in the long term, but for now, their commitment in participating in the upcoming elections is clear.”

The voter registration numbers highlight the election’s high stakes for the increasing number of binational residents living in North Texas who are deepening economic ties to Mexico.

North Texas is home to about 2.1 million Hispanics, the sixth-largest region of that demographic in the U.S.,  and 84 percent of them have roots in Mexico, according to a 2016 U.S. Census Bureau study. Nearly 60 percent of Hispanic households in this country are bilingual, according to the study.

Of the estimated 100 Mexican-owned companies in the state, 33 are based in North Texas, according to Southern Methodist University.

Among those registered to vote in the Mexican election is Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the Tower Center at SMU and founding executive director of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center on its campus.

“Of course I’m voting; especially with the situation with the United States, Mexican leadership is important,” she said. “What’s at stake in Mexico’s upcoming election is the battle for stability amidst a wave of rising nationalism.” READ MORE