Immigration is one of the hot issues in America’s culture wars. As you know, the culture wars was one of my earlier picks for the top five values stories of 2012. Now, a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center reveals a startling twist in the immigration debates: Mexican migration to the U.S. has stopped. In fact, the flow might have reversed direction.
Mexican migrants are the single largest group of immigrants in the United States, accounting for 30% of all immigrants. Here’s a fact that surprised me. I’ll quote the authors of the report: “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 movement of Mexicans to the U.S. began long ago, but it accelerated around 1970. In the last five years, however, the trend shifted downward. Now, what looked like an unstoppable tidal wave has stopped.
Why did this happen? Like so many things, there isn’t one simple reason. Several factors came into play, according to Pew analysts. Tougher border control and more aggressive deportation practices contributed to the reversal.
One big reason for the end of Mexican migration is the troubled American economy. The prolonged, deep recession here meant there were far fewer employment opportunities for migrants. In essence, the American Dream ended for Mexican migrants and so fewer and fewer came across the border.
Changes on the Mexican side factor into the equation. One change is declining fertility in Mexico and the rising average age of Mexicans. Another is the strengthening of the Mexican economy over time. The Mexican economy, in fact, is recovering faster than the U.S. economy.
Is the American Dream over for immigrants?
Will Mexican migration pick up once our economy improves?
What should our immigration policy be?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.