Mexican Migration: Perspective Grounded In Context

The noisy debate over immigration has once again resurfaced on to the mainstream media. Many of the issues driving the resurrection of the immigration debate are propelled by a combination of recent developments in migration patterns and political interest but some would argue that media is only telling part of the story.

Allow me to share a few important media headlines that have appeared as of lately…

– Net Zero migration from Mexico

– Historic levels of deportations

The recent headlines are driven mostly by the media’s interest but surprisingly as well from the business world. The finding, which comes from the Pew Hispanic Center is grabbing the attention of many chief marketing officers. Since news broke out from the Pew Hispanic Center, the business world has begun to question their strategic investment in the recent booming Latino market. After all, the Latino population already represents 16% of the total population and wields a spending power of more than $1 Trillion dollars. CMO”s quite don’t understand why net zero migration is taking place but they are beginning to re-evaluate and consider their approach if the recent immigration narrative is true.

According to the press, the reason for the migration slowdown is a direct consequence of the supposed trend that Mexican’s no longer believe in the “American dream”. It’s a narrative the media has been selling and it also provides a segway to my next point that could explain better why migration has slowed from Mexico. In the past 4 years, the United States has witnessed a historic number of illegal immigrants deported. In fact, the U.S. government set a historic record in 2011 by deporting over 400,000 illegal immigrants along with their family members. By putting these deportations into the overall context, it reveals that over half of illegal immigrants were involuntarily deported back to their home country. In sum, nearly 1.2 million have been deported in the last 4 years which would provide context into why immigration numbers have flattened in the last 4 years. Now, after considering these figures, the media’s conclusion that immigrants are giving up on the “American dream” maybe should more likely be rephrased… to, “America is giving up on the dream”

Still, the deportation numbers have led me to beg the question, has the slow down in immigration come off the heels in the lost hope of the “American Dream” or simply as a direct consequence of cultural evolution? My research leads me to believe that other factors played a role beyond historic deportation levels in the impact of migration slowdown from Mexico. Below I have listed a few other factors playing a role in the leveling out of migration from Mexico.

  • The cost and risks have risen
  • Demand for labor in the U.S. has fallen
  • Growth in Mexico’s labor force has slowed
  • Mexico’s society has seen a gradual decline in birthrates

An another interesting observation to identify has been the position CNN has taken on the immigration debate. Just like other media players, CNN as well has attempted to sell the notion that “Mexicans are giving up on the American dream It’s as if CNN is trying to claim that immigrants believed more in an illusion vs the reality. If immigrants are giving up on the American dream than our country has much more serious challenges than immigration debate.

Immigration has always been a top seller when it comes to positioning a provocative story but the digital trans-media world has taken it to the next level. While researching and gathering different perspectives for this post, I felt guided by my curiosity to understand the digital pulse on this debate via google’s search engine. The results were alarming … over 2 million results appeared in google within 0.25 seconds. Which leads me to reaffirm that the national debate about immigration may be top of mind on TV but it’s on steroids via the virtual world….

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In retrospect, after identifying some gaps in healthy perspective on the issue, I don’t believe that immigration has been given the right amount of thorough analysis it deserves. Yes, migration has slowed but not because the American dream is fading but because of socio-economic evolution. Mexico’s economy believe it or not is improving, birth rates are declining, Latinas are becoming more and more educated here and south of the border and deportations have seen a record breaking historic high in U.S. History. Combined, these factors are the reasons why migration is slowing…. or should we assert returning to normal…. which leads me to last concluding point and most important takeaway.

Despite migration from illegal Mexicans flattening out in recent years, legal Mexican travel north grew. According to data from the Mexican Migration Project, it indicates that the rate of undocumented emigration is nearing zero. Meanwhile legal migration rose through the roof: 517,000 Mexicans entered the United States as legal temporary workers in 2010, while 880,000 entered on business VISAS and 30,000 arrived as exchange visitors. In other words, Mexicans are coming to the United States to work as eagerly as ever, but they are doing so legally. This is a pretty compelling narrative and different perspective on immigration, leading me to conclude and agree with the New York Times article that identified this point of view that immigration from Mexico to the United States has returned to a healthy circular pattern.


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