Center for American Progress

Changes in Mexico Will Likely Lead to Decline in Migration
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Changes in Mexico Will Likely Lead to Decline in Migration

All evidence suggests that Mexico’s demographic and economic shifts will only increase in the future, further decreasing the pressures to emigrate.

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The New York Times reported last month that the “extraordinary Mexican migration” of the past three decades that brought millions of people to America “has sputtered to a trickle.” 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.

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