Many Arab immigrants came to the Americas—the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina (to name only a few countries)—primarily with the intent to make money quickly and return home. Their enduring presence, however, is marked by ambiguous categorizations of Arabs in the United States and Mexico that relate to confusions of place, people, and history. The article is divided into six sections. In the first section, I describe the complex categories of personhood for those who migrated from the Middle East. The second section provides a broad Arab demographic profile in the United States and Mexico and leads to the third section, where I address the conflation of Arabs and Muslims with ethnographic detail. The fourth section offers a comparative analysis of selected immigration laws in Mexico and the United States that have shaped the Arab diasporas in each country. In the fifth section, a brief description of how some Arab elites in Mexico have drawn on their foreignness to assert a Lebanese identity illustrates the complexity of describing Arab diasporas in the Americas and anticipates the sixth section, which concerns the reception of Arab immigrants in the United States. The article aims both to engage scholars studying Arab diasporas for points of comparisons and to problematize the homogenous use of terms such as Arab in mainstream Mexican and American discourses.

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