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  • Edición impresa de Agosto 16, 2011

Washington, D.C.—Demographic and economic shifts within Mexico coupled with the Great Recession and enhanced border security in the United States has resulted in a dramatic decline in Mexican migration to the US, write CAP’s Philip E. Wolgin and Ann Garcia. Net unauthorized migration from Mexico—the combined number of undocumented immigrants entering and leaving the country—has been reduced to nil.

But the fact that the great migration slowed is not in and of itself major news. Scholars point out that the Great Recession and enhanced border security severely cut down on the number of Mexican immigrants seeking to enter the United States. When this decline in attempted entries is coupled with historically high rates of apprehensions at the border, we are left with a dramatic decline in undocumented immigration.

But what will happen to migration flows once the recession ends and the American economy revs up again? To answer this question, we must understand a lesser-known story: how much Mexico itself has changed over the last few decades and what these changes will mean for the future.

A combination of an aging population and economic growth means there will be fewer Mexicans in a position to migrate to the United States and more job opportunities within Mexico itself. Even though out-of-touch nativists continue to shout inflamed rhetoric warning of the threat of millions of Mexicans waiting to cross the border to lay waste to the American Dream, the reality is that the supply of people looking to leave Mexico is not limitless. All evidence suggests that Mexico’s demographic and economic shifts will only increase in the future, further decreasing the pressures to emigrate.

These shifts in Mexico will deeply affect the shape of immigration in the United States. Mexican immigrants comprise close to 60 percent of undocumented immigrants (6.5 million out of 11.2 million) and 30 percent of all immigrants (11.5 million out of 38.5 million).

This column takes a closer look at the changes within Mexico and offers recommendations for adjusting to a future with far fewer Mexican immigrants seeking to enter the country.

The Center for American Progress

 


 

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