Earlier this month, ThinkProgress reported that immigration from Mexico into the United States reached a “net zero” level. Yet a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than are leaving Mexico for the U.S.A for the first time since the Great Depression.
The report notes several factors that are likely behind the change including tighter borders, including a weakened U.S. economy and a rise in deportations. But most interesting are two factors that may indicate that the trend may be lasting. First, the birthrate in Mexico has dropped. Between 1960 and 2009, the average Mexican woman went from having nine children to just two. As such the Mexican population has dropped. Second, the Mexican economy has improved. With a relatively strong economy, there is less incentive for citizens to emigrate.
For years, the U.S. immigration debate has been built around an assumption that there are large numbers of Mexican nationals trying to move into the U.S. — legally and illegally. This report suggests that this assumption may need to be re-evaluated. As Princeton Professor Douglas Massey, who co-directs the Mexican Migration Project, told the Washington Post, “I think the massive boom in Mexican immigration is over and I don’t think it will ever return to the numbers we saw in the 1990s and 2000s.”