Statistics show that the normal, hard-working, job-seeking Mexicans have been leaving the US. (The ongoing problem of gang members, drug smugglers, and non-Mexicans, particularly jihadis, slipping through our southern border, is another matter.) The US is no longer the country that people were literally dying to get into. Evidently, the Mexicans have noticed something that the vast majority of Americans still refuse to acknowledge.
Is mass migration from Mexico to the United States a thing of the past?
At least for the moment, it is. Last May, the Pew Hispanic Center, in a study based on U.S. and Mexican statistics, reported that net migration from Mexico to this country had fallen to zero from 2005 to 2010.
Pew said 20,000 more people moved to Mexico from the United States than from there to here in those years. That’s a vivid contrast with the years 1995 to 2000, when net inflow from Mexico was 2.2 million people.
Because there was net Mexican immigration until 2007, when the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession began, it seems clear that there was net outmigration from 2007 to 2010, and that likely has continued in 2011 and 2012.
Life in Mexico is not a nightmare for many these days. Beneath the headlines about killings in the drug wars, Mexico has become a predominantly middle-class country, as Jorge Castañeda notes in his recent book, Mañana Forever? Its economy is growing faster than ours.
And the dreams that many Mexican immigrants pursued have been shattered.
You can see that if you look at the statistics on mortgage foreclosures, starting with the housing bust in 2007. More than half were in the four “sand states” — California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida — and within them, as the Pew Hispanic Center noted in a 2009 report, in areas with large numbers of Latino immigrants.
These were places where subprime mortgages were granted, with encouragement from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to many Latinos unqualified by traditional credit standards.
These new homeowners, many of them construction workers, dreamed of gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars as housing prices inevitably rose. Instead, they collapsed. My estimate is that one-third of those foreclosed on in these years were Latinos. Their dreams turned into nightmares.
We can see further evidence in last month’s Pew research report on the recent decline in U.S. birthrates. The biggest drop was among Mexican-born women, from 455,000 births in 2007 to 346,000 in 2010.
That’s a 24 percent decline, compared with only a 6 percent decline among U.S.-born women. It’s comparable to the sharp decline in U.S. birthrates in the Depression years from 1929 to 1933.
Says Lyn Fuchs in a comment on that article:
As a gringo university professor in southern Mexico, I cannot fail to notice the extent to which my Mexican students now consider migrating North to be a desperate option reserved primarily for Central Americans.
Also, seldom does a week go by when a taxi driver doesn’t explain that he returned from the U.S. because the job options are now comparable here. One recently added this comment, “Plus in Mexico, we have liberty.”
Even those who disagree with his perception, should let the fact that many in Mexico now hold this truth to be self evident sink in. The word freedom certainly seems more at home on the lips of many Mexicans these days than on those of an Obama administration spokesman. Many of the huddled masses yearning to be free are starting to doubt whether the U.S. is still the best place to pursue such longings.