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President Barack Obama has succeeded in stopping the flood of undocumented aliens from south of the border. Bringing illegal immigration to a halt has had the unfortunate side effect of bringing the American economy to a halt. Or did the reverse happen?
It turns out that the way to make America unattractive to Mexicans is to make America more like Mexico, which has been marked by bailouts, crony capitalism, and economic stagnation for several decades. “The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill,” begins a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. “After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—most of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed.”
“Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less” notes that the Mexican-born U.S. population rose from below one million in 1970 to reach about twelve million today. The population shift is historic in several ways. The sheer numbers of the northward Mexican migration exceeds past mass migrations to the United States from Germany, Ireland, and points beyond. “The U.S. today has more immigrants from Mexico alone—12.0 million—than any other country in the world has from all countries of the world,” the report points out. Nearly six in ten immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, and about half of those Mexican immigrants are in the country illegally. Most Mexican immigrants, illegal and legal, live in two states: Texas and California. By way of comparison, about one in twenty-five Mexicans living in the United States settled in the northeast.
The numbers tell as much about Mexico as they do about the United States. One in ten Mexicans resides in the United States. The Pew Hispanic Center explains, “No other nation in the world has as many of its citizens living abroad as does Mexico, and 97% of them live in the U.S.” As the northward march has slowed, Mexico’s murder rate climbed and its birth rate descended. Crime, which might seem a plausible cause of departure, seems almost inversely correlated to the historic population shift. Pew cites the birth rate, which declined from 7.3 babies per Mexican woman in 1960 to 2.4 today, as one of several likely ingredients contributing to the migration moratorium. But the birth rate was in decline when the exodus peaked in the ’90s and ’00s.
So what’s causing Mexicans to stay in Mexico—and to return there from the United States?
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