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Zacatecas, Mexico, prepares for homecoming migrants

October 7, 2008 | 11:12 am

The central Mexican state of Zacatecas -- half of whose population lives in the United States -- is preparing to welcome an expected influx of Mexicans returning home from el Norte in the wake of the financial crisis currently gripping the U.S.

Amalia Garcia, governor of the state, announced yesterday that migrants returning home from the U.S. will receive medical attention and financial support until they're reintegrated into the work force.

As we reported Monday, some in Mexico are predicting that as many as 350,000 nationals could return -- both voluntarily and by force -- as a result of the economic crisis in the U.S.

Garcia said yesterday, quoted here in Milenio: "We've decided to prepare ourselves for the possible return of migrants. In the first place I decided, along with the cabinet, that families who return to Zacatecas will be able to put their children into education without having to ask for tickets or forms.

"Secondly, all of them will be attended to by the health services of the state."

Garcia also promised access to micro-credits and temporary work.

The governor, who was accompanied by President Felipe Calderon's wife, Margarita Zavala, in the opening of National Health Week, also said that although half of the state's population has migrated north, Zacatecas is not being as badly affected by the drop in remittances that is hitting Mexico.

Money sent home by migrants living in Mexico fell by 12% in August -- the biggest drop that the country has seen since the Bank of Mexico started measuring the flow of money south.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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