Mexico-US migration slips after 40 years of growth

Migrants arriving at Nuevo Laredo, in the US (file pic) Tougher US border enforcement has kept away some illegal migrants

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The rate of Mexican immigration to the US has stalled or maybe even gone into reverse, an analysis shows, ending a four-decade-long trend.

A Pew Hispanic Center study shows immigration began to slow five years ago and may have reversed by 2010.

Economic factors, increased border control, and lower Mexican birth rates were all cited as factors.

More than 12 million migrants entered the US from Mexico since 1970, more than half legally, the report says.

"Looking back over the entire span of US history, no country has ever seen as many of its people immigrate to this country as Mexico has in the past four decades," the report's authors note.

However, figures clearly show major changes to the long-term trend over the years 2005-2010.

A decade earlier, from 1995-2000, some 2.9 million Mexicans arrived in the US, with just 670,000 people leaving the country for Mexico - a net influx to the US of more than 2.2 million people.

Between 2005-2010, though, just 1.37 million arrived from Mexico - and 1.39 million left to cross the southern border.

"While it is not possible to say so with certainty, the trend lines within this latest five-year period suggest that return flow to Mexico probably exceeded the inflow from Mexico during the past year or two."


The downward trend includes a sharp reduction in the number of illegal Mexican migrants living in the US, the report says.

The numbers of unauthorised Mexicans living in the US fell from nearly seven million in 2007 to 6.1 million in 2011, according to estimates based on US census data.

During those years the numbers of legal Mexican migrants in the US rose slightly, increasing by 200,000 to 5.8 million.

The data tallies with previous figures released by the US government that showed the Obama administration deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants for three successive years from 2009.

According to data in the Pew report, a "significant minority" of the 1.3 million people - between 5% and 35% - who left the US for Mexico did not leave the country voluntarily.

The issue of immigration is a sensitive one in a presidential election year.

New immigration laws in several states, including Alabama and Arizona, have placed a heavy focus on efforts to crack down on illegal immigration by requiring individuals to present valid US documents.

Backers of the new laws say the requirement to present documents encourages people without the legal right to be in the US to leave the country of their own accord.

That process of attrition was referred to as "self-deportation" during this year's Republican primary season.

Arizona's law is being challenged in the US Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney polls badly among Latino voters, while President Barack Obama generally retains broad support despite his stern deportation policy.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    We in the US would solve some of our "immigration" problems and reduce the exportation of our jobs to places like China if we worked to ensure a living wage for all workers throughout the world, or better yet, social justice for all. I have a lot of respect for those who will walk over 1,000 miles to feed their families, working in jobs many of us would refuse, working harder than most people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Too many unjust laws exist to enslave us in the USA! I don't agree with the immigration laws. They are there to allow the criminal exploitation of a minority, making them a lesser class of a human being. You work; you pay and are entitled to humanitarian means whatever race of human being you are. I don't see an lesser number but instead a increase in the number of minorities entering the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    First generation Mexicans are considered hard working. The problem is that employers of illegal aliens (the correct legal term) have created a caste system. Illegal aliens do work Americans refuse to do at illegal alien wages. Former middle class union meat packing and construction jobs are filled by illegal aliens.The solution is to imprison and heavily fine cheating employers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    These statistics aren't really all that surprising. Most illegally entering Mexicans picked up jobs that Americans didn't want to do themselves (landscaping and yard-maintenance or non-unionized construction work) with the economic downturn though, people have turned to either,
    1) Doing those jobs themselves, rather than hiring a service


    2) Take up the jobs in an abysmal job market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    What these staistics indicate is the application of federal laws in the field that were flouted for so long. This is thanks to the action of individual states that have put the federal authorities on the spot as being deliberately negligent in upholding the law. There is also an increased public intolerance at the previous laxity on illegal migrants that has become a national political issue.


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