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05-21-06, 11:11 AM #1
10 percent of Mexico's population is now living in the USA
Washington -- The current migration of Mexicans and Central Americans to the United States is one of the largest diasporas in modern history, experts say.
Roughly 10 percent of Mexico's population of about 107 million is now living in the United States, estimates show. About 15 percent of Mexico's labor force is working in the United States. One in every 7 Mexican workers migrates to the United States.
Mass migration from Mexico began more than a century ago. It is deeply embedded in the history, culture and economies of both nations. The current wave began with Mexico's economic crisis in 1982, accelerated sharply in the 1990s with the U.S. economic boom, and today has reached record dimensions.
It is unlikely to ebb anytime soon.
"There is no scenario outside of catastrophic attack on the United States that would make immigration stop," said Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.
The fierce immigration debate now under way in Congress focuses almost exclusively on the U.S. side of the equation. Senate legislation attempts to reduce the flow by hardening the border, sanctioning employers who hire illegal migrants, and expanding avenues for legal immigration. The House passed a bill focused solely on U.S. enforcement.
Yet whatever the United States decides about immigration will have a huge impact on its closest neighbors, especially Mexico.
What happens in Mexico, by turn, has a big effect on immigration flows to the United States. Those events include a hotly contested election six weeks away that pits a leftist populist against a market-oriented heir to President Vicente Fox.
"We want Mexico to look like Canada," said Stephen Haber, director of Stanford University's Social Science History Institute and a Latin America specialist at the Hoover Institution. "That's the optimal for the United States. We never talk about instability in Canada. We're never concerned about a Canadian security problem. Because Canada is wealthy and stable. It's so wealthy and stable we barely know it's there most of the time. That's the optimal for Mexico: a wealthy and stable country."
What isn't wanted, Haber said, "is an unstable country on your border, especially an unstable country that hates you."
Three-quarters of the estimated 12 million illegal migrants in the United States come from Mexico and Central America. Mexicans make up 56 percent of the unauthorized U.S. migrant population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Another 22 percent come from elsewhere in Latin America, mainly Central America and the Andean countries. These same countries send many of the half-million new illegal immigrants who arrive each year.
Migration is profoundly altering Mexico and Central America. Entire rural communities are nearly bereft of working-age men. The town of Tendeparacua, in the Mexican state of Michoacan, had 6,000 residents in 1985, and now has 600, according to news reports. In five Mexican states, the money migrants send home exceeds locally generated income, one study found.
Last year, Mexico received a record $20 billion in remittances from migrant workers. That is equal to Mexico's 2004 income from oil exports and dwarfing tourism revenue.
The money Mexican migrants send home almost equals the U.S. foreign aid budget for the entire world, said Arturo Valenzuela, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and former head of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.
Migration has caused significant social disruption in Mexico, though research is scant, said B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.
"We do know that it can break up families, and has done so in many traditional sending areas," he said. "The husband comes to the United States and stays for many years. His wife is on her own with the children. In some cases, the couple comes to the United States and leaves their children behind with relatives."
The U.S. information economy has created a split labor market, one with a powerful demand for high- and low-skilled workers, economists say.
While U.S. professionals toil in office buildings, others come to clean their offices, prepare their food and provide the host of services that support modern life. In a bygone era, teenagers, women and rural U.S. migrants filled these jobs. The U.S. labor market offers opportunities to "a younger, vibrant labor force and Mexican immigration has been filling that void," said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Mexico Project for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
U.S. demand has driven a record increase in wages for newly arrived immigrants, about 30 percent between 1994 and 2000, according to Lowell. The migration has also raised average wages in Mexico by 8 to 9 percent, economists estimate. As the first U.S. Baby Boomers turn 60 this year, this demand is only expected to intensify.
Once migration starts, social and economic networks sustain and fuel it, which explains in part why flows have not fallen despite solid economic growth in Mexico.
Most illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America have not completed high school, although education levels are rising. Harvard economist George Borjas found that in 2000, 63 percent of Mexican immigrants had not finished high school.
New immigrants are much more broadly dispersed than previous waves. A lower percentage are going to the traditional magnet states such as California and New York. The fastest-growing destinations for new arrivals, according to demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution, are North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa and Nebraska.
This geographic dispersal may account in part for rising public discontent over immigration, many believe. Migrant workers have also shifted from the fields to the cities, working in hotels, restaurants and construction, where they are more visible to the public.
Many contend that U.S. investment in Mexico would be less expensive and more effective than a wall. Poorly developed Mexican credit markets make it all but impossible for a low-income family to get a mortgage.
If, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1994, "the United States had approached Mexico and its integration into the North American economy in the same way that the European Union approached Spain and Portugal in 1986, we wouldn't have an immigration problem now," said Princeton University sociologist Douglas Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, a survey of Mexican migrants.
Given that Mexico is the second-largest U.S. trading partner, the two nations' economic integration is well under way, and labor is part of that, experts say.
Even a new wall -- already under construction on the border with Mexico with bits of triple fencing here and pieces of National Guard units there -- has not stopped migrants entering yet and probably works more to trap them in the United States, many believe.
"These are human beings," said Audrey Singer, an immigration expert at the Brookings Institution. "It's not like a water faucet we can turn on and off. I think of managing them better -- because it's very hard to stop them."
05-21-06, 04:00 PM #2
Just to pick ONE thing from this article "Poorly developed Mexican credit markets make it all but impossible for a low-income family to get a mortgage." I don't see too many low-income US citizens getting mortgages either.
Rather than staying in Mexico and trying to improve their country, they come here and bleed this one. Thanks, guys. All 14 of you who live in the two bedroom apartment the next block over, and the handfull in the house next door who somehow afford tricked-out rides while working in a restaurant. And the other umpteen million of you across the country who can't be bothered to assimilate into the US culture. Thanks for trying your hardest to wreck my neighborhood and making sure the local patrol officers have something to occupy their time.
05-21-06, 05:01 PM #3GrasshopperVerified LEO
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"The fastest-growing destinations for new arrivals, according to demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution, are North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa and Nebraska. "
No kidding? Gee, thanks for the update, didn't know. Lucky us. Why can't we just kick Mexico's government over and be one big unhappy family? Then we would have a little more control in this BS. I bet the drug trade would drop off a bit, then, too.
05-21-06, 05:22 PM #4Originally Posted by conalabu
How about we start a catch and release program, catch them at the border and release them into... I don't know.. siberia, maybe. Somewhere cold with little to no crops to pick.
05-21-06, 05:30 PM #5FishTail Guest
Do you think if I pretended to be Mexican they'd let me in?
If any Sheriff in Oklahoma or Colorado wants to hire me I'll take a flight to Mexico and hop across the border.
05-21-06, 07:27 PM #6
At the current rate, the USA will be a third world country in 10 years.
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