Regardless of what claims are made by certain politicians, the facts are that Mexican immigration to the United States is below net zero. That means more Mexicans are going out than coming in. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, the United States was found to have suffered a net loss of 140,000 Mexican immigrants between 2009 and 2014.
This is a huge difference from the Clinton era, which saw a massive 2,270,000 net immigrants to the US between 1995 and 2000. During the same period, the overall population of Mexican-born people in the US has declined. Many choosing to remain in the States were long-term residents with children.
Many Families of Mexicans are Affected
As for the families leaving, it’s easy to point a finger at growing anti-immigration sentiment after the recent presidential election, but the stories among the families leaving seem to contradict that. They simply miss their relatives in Mexico and/or have affairs to attend to back home.
Take the case of the Ramos family reported on Public Radio International’s website. They came to America in 2003 planning to earn money for three years and then move back. Their sons got settled in school, though, so they decided to stay longer. At the end of 2015, they left, leaving their children to finish school in the US, with the eldest brother looking after the younger siblings. Mario Ramos, the father, stated
I don’t want to die in Memphis. I don’t want to die in the same place.
It seems like their story is more common than current political discourse would have American citizens believe. The vast majority of immigrants leaving the country are not victims of deportation, crime, or some kind of persecution by their neighbors. Most of them just want to go back to be “home”, to be with the family, or to start a new family in Mexico.
These findings shocked the Pew study’s head Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, who had also assumed deportations and immigration laws would likely make up a bulk of the exiting population. Of course, that’s not to say those haven’t had an effect. Influx slowed down following the difficult economic recovery after the Great Recession. Stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws in recent years saw an increase in deportations as well.
The Trump Issue
Now, president Trump has vowed to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that gave the eldest Ramos boys their social security cards. It’s possible that they would become undocumented once again if this happens, making life much harder for a group of kids just wanting to live out the American dream.
The question becomes: why do politicians see the need to constantly demonize Mexican immigrants when they’re mostly going out anyway? The ones who are sticking around are more likely to be integrated into the community and productive members of society. They do the work no one else wants to do, and they work cheap, especially if they’re undocumented.
The unfortunate answer is it’s easy: to scapegoat them for all the nation’s problems. There’s a problem with welfare programs? Blame the immigrants. Problems with drugs? Blame the immigrants. Problems with crime in the socioeconomically deprived areas of the country? Blame the immigrants. Are taxes too high? That’s because of them too.
The dark truth is that the situation is unlikely to get better during the current administration, and more Mexican immigrants or possibly even American-born children of Mexican immigrants might begin to make their way out.
Most likely, Trump and his wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric will sweep over these communities. With him already trying to soften his rhetoric on the infamous wall, the best America can hope for is that immigration won’t actually become one of his top priorities.
Image source: here