Mark Stevenson, AP, April 23, 2006
They name their babies Johnny and Leslie, so certain are they that their kids’ future lies in the United States. Returning migrants sprinkle English into their speech as they talk knowingly about job markets in U.S. towns.
America may want to stop illegal immigration, but most Mexicans accept it as a fact of life they can’t imagine changing.
Mexico’s economy, society and political system are built around the assumption that migration and amnesties for undocumented migrants will continue — and that the $20 billion they send home every year will keep coming, and almost certainly grow.
In fact, the government is counting on continued cash from a Mexican-born U.S. population it predicts will rise from 11 million to between 17.9 million and 20.4 million by 2030.
“There have been amnesties and reforms before, and they will continue to occur periodically,” said Jesus Cervantes, director of statistics for Mexico’s Central Bank.
President Vicente Fox is one of many Mexican who considers the migrants “heroes,” because they send money to their impoverished home villages, and in some cases risk death walking into America in pitiless desert sun.
Many families give their babies “American” names, figuring it will help them fit in when they make the inevitable trip north. In one central Mexican village, men on a dusty side road knowingly discuss which Long Island towns are best for day-labor work.