For first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave U.S. than enter
By Tara Bahrampour, Monday, April 23, 6:06 PM
A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.
It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.
“I think the massive boom in Mexican immigration is over and I don’t think it will ever return to the numbers we saw in the 1990s and 2000s,” said Douglas Massey, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, which has been gathering data on the subject for 30 years.
Nearly 1.4 million Mexicans moved from the United States to Mexico between 2005 and 2010, double the number who did so a decade earlier. The number of Mexicans who moved to the United States during that period fell to less than half of the 3 million who came between 1995 and 2000.
According to the report, the Mexican-born population, which had been increasing since 1970, peaked at 12.6 million in 2007 and has dropped to 12 million since then.
The reversal appears to be a result of tightened border controls, a weak U.S. job and housing construction market, a rise in deportations and a decline in Mexican birthrates, said the study, which used U.S. and Mexican census figures and Mexican government surveys. Arrests of illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States have also dropped precipitously in recent years.
Half of those returning to Mexico took their entire families, including more than 100,000 U.S.-born children of Mexican immigrants. Children born in the United States to Mexican nationals are citizens of both countries.
The drop comes at a time when overall immigration to the United States continues to grow, and reflects several factors specific to Mexico, including a relatively strong economy and a sharply diminished birthrate.
In 1960, a typical Mexican woman was expected to have more than seven children, but by 2009 that number had dropped to just over two — a decline that presages a sharp reduction in the number of young workers seeking to come to the United States.
But the era of entire villages moving from Mexico to the United States may be over, said Randy Capps, a senior policy analyst and demographer at the Migration Policy Institute.
Instead, he said, the current reversal may be similar to the reduced flow from Germany and Ireland a century ago. He predicted a negative feedback loop as fewer potential immigrants have connections to the United States.
“If this goes on for much longer, it’s going to take a lot to reverse it,” Capps said. “A lot of migration is based on networks — people who know people who know about the environment they’re going to be moving into. When the jobs disappear and the people you know aren’t there anymore, this channel of communication either dries up or it becomes so negative that it just changes everybody’s mind.”
Gustavo Velasquez, 38, who came from Oaxaca, Mexico, 12 years ago and serves as the director of the D.C. Office on Human Rights, said that the scarcity of U.S. jobs is causing more Mexicans to think twice about moving.
It is better to be unemployed in Mexico than to be unemployed in the United States, he said, because most migrant workers leave their families in Mexico. “They miss the warmth of being in a welcoming community,” he said, adding that with tougher border control and more deportations, Mexicans would rather be in a “precarious situation than in a situation of fear.”
Staff writers Stefanie Dazio, Carol Morello and Peter Wallsten contributed to this report.
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For first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave U.S. than enter - The Washington Post
Very interesting development we have here. Seems that this particular era of Mexican immigration is coming to an end. At least until the economy returns to pre-recession levels some 10 years from now...