Mexican Immigration to U.S. Off 40 Percent, Study Finds

Mariano Castillo, CNN, July 22, 2009

Mexican immigration to the United States has dropped sharply since 2005, but the flow of migrants returning to Mexico remains steady, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Immigration from Mexico to the United States slowed at least 40 percent between mid-decade and 2008, according to the analysis, based on national population surveys in the United States and Mexico, as well as Border Patrol apprehension figures.

The Mexican survey estimated that 1 million Mexicans left for the United States in a 12-month period beginning in 2006. Three years later, that number decreased to 636,000.

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While the number of Mexican migrants entering the United States remains greater than the number returning, the study shows that the gap is closing to the point of nearing a balance between migrant inflows and outflows.

It is too early to tell, however, if either trend “points to a fundamental change in U.S.-Mexico immigration patterns or is a short-term response to heightened border enforcement, the weakened U.S. economy or other forces,” the study states.

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For those in Mexico, it remains expensive and risky to be smuggled into the United States, especially in a weak economy, he said.

“Things are worse in Mexico than they are here,” de la Garza said. “The job you have here is better than what you have there. If you go back, what do you go back to?”

Another reason that Mexicans living in the United States might stay is that they feel at home, he said.

Despite the stereotype of the United States as an anti-immigrant destination, “at local levels, there is very little harassment,” de la Garza said. “By and large, people are accepting of immigrants.”

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