The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that China overtook Mexico in 2013 as the leading country for new immigrants. Over the past decade, immigration from China and India to the U.S. has increased steadily, while immigration from Mexico has declined sharply.
The Pew Research Center reported findings indicating that between 2009 and 2014, approximately 870,000 Mexican nationals arrived in the states. During that same time frame, an estimated “1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico.” There’s been a resulting drop in the number of undocumented Mexican migrants living in the U.S., with the population decreasing by about one million from 2007 to 2014.
61 percent of migrants said their primary reason for returning home was to reconnect with family. That’s a far greater number than the mere 14 percent who reported they’d been deported. For the most part, migrants returning to Mexico from the U.S. are doing so of their own volition.
Pew cites sluggish Great Recession economic recovery, and correlating shrinkage in unskilled labor market, as a demotivating factor for Mexican migration and a possible reason why some migrants have returned home. For many Mexicans, dwindling opportunities in America may be making the treacherous northward journey simply not worth the risk. In 2000, 1.6 million Mexican nationals trying to enter the country were apprehended at the border. In fiscal year 2014, that figure had plummeted to 229,000. Post-Great Recession America is a place fewer Mexican migrants are willing to undertake the journey to reach. An increasing number of Mexican citizens are less convinced the grass to the north is greener.
Millions of Mexicans who have come to the U.S. over the past few decades made incredible personal sacrifices to get here, beginning with a dangerous, not infrequently lethal desert journey, followed by attempts to make a life here without cherished friends and loved ones around. Social isolation, alienation and loneliness—and encounters with xenophobia and racism, which have crept up since these surveys were conducted—can take a toll not always or fully remedied by money earned through backbreaking labor.
Pew found that while 45 percent of Mexicans adults surveyed said life is better in U.S., one-third believe that “those who move to the U.S. lead a life that is equivalent to that in Mexico”—10 percent more than those who felt that way in 2007.
While the number of immigrants from Mexico has been trending downward, Pew notes that there has been a concurrent rise in unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras arriving at the border.