For First Time Since Depression, More Mexicans Leave U.S. than Enter

Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post, April 23, 2012

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.

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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. {snip}

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One in 10 people born in Mexico live in the United States, and more than half entered illegally. {snip}\

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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.

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