Business, Economics and Jobs

Mexican immigration to the United States slows sharply, Pew report says


Mexican migrant workers harvest organic kale at Grant Family Farms on October 11, 2011 in Wellington, Colorado.


John Moore

Mexican immigration into the United States has hit the brakes and may be reversing, according to a new report published today.

The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States slowed sharply in recent years as the world’s No. 1 economy slumped and authorities boosted border controls, the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center said.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of Mexicans immigrating to the United States more than halved to 1.4 million from a decade earlier, the study found.

At the same time, 1.4 million Mexicans and their children moved home, roughly double the number who had done 10 years earlier.

"These developments represent a notable reversal of the historic pattern of Mexican immigration to the US, which has risen dramatically over the past four decades," the report said, according to CNN.

“While it is not possible to say so with certainty, the trend lines within this latest 5-year period suggest that return flow to Mexico probably exceeded the in-flow from Mexico during the last year or two," according to the study, which drew on US and Mexican government data, Reuters said.

There are currently 12 million Mexican immigrants -- about one in every 10 Mexicans in the world -- living on US soil, most of them illegally, the New York Times said, citing the study. Many of them work in the agricultural, construction, transport, processing and service industries.

USA TODAY said there were many reasons for the slowdown in the number of Mexicans heading north, including the weakened US job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement and a rise in deportations.

Other factors include the growing dangers associated with crossing north illegally from Mexico and the long-term decline in Mexico's birth rates.

The study said it was possible the immigration wave since the 1970s would resume as the US economy recovers.

Mexican immigration is a hot button issue in the United States because 58 percent of the 11.2 million immigrants living there illegally are Mexican, USA TODAY said, citing figures from the report.

The report comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Wednesday over a controversial law passed by Arizona in 2010 to expand the powers of local and state police to enforce immigration laws, the New York Times said.

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