A bad American economy along with stronger immigration laws sees some Mexicans moving back to Mexico
Data from both sides of the border suggest that illegal immigration from Mexico is already in fast retreat, as U.S. job shortages, tighter border enforcement and the frightening presence of criminal gangs on the Mexican side dissuade many from making the trip.
Mexican census figures show that fewer Mexicans are setting out and many are returning — leaving net migration at close to zero, Mexican officials say. Arrests by the U.S. Border Patrol along the southwestern frontier, a common gauge of how many people try to cross without papers, tumbled to 304,755 during the 11 months ended in August, extending a nearly steady drop since a peak of 1.6 million in 2000, reports the Los Angeles Times.
"Our country is not experiencing the population loss due to migration that was seen for nearly 50 years," Rene Zenteno, a deputy Mexico interior secretary for migration matters, has said.
Video - Mexico's economic growth - one of the many reasons Google does business in Mexico.
Douglas Massey, an immigration scholar at Princeton University, said surveys of residents in Mexican migrant towns he has studied for many years found that the number of people making their first trip north had dwindled to near zero.
"We are at a new point in the history of migration between Mexico and the United States," Massey said in a Mexico City news conference in August hosted by Zenteno.
About 12.5 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States, slightly more than half without papers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
In Guanajuato, Mexico long one of the country's biggest migrant-sending states, thousands of Mexicans have come back, but "it hasn't been a massive return," said Susana Guerra, who heads the state's migrant affairs office. She calls the decline in northward migration a "spasm" — not a lasting reality.
Carlos Mireles, who lives in the town of Manuel Doblado, Guanajuato, said his two nephews moved to Mexico City after they lost their restaurant jobs in Chicago and spent six months without work.
While in Orange County, California
With the downturn in the economy, Mexicans residing in Santa Ana, California legally and illegally began to look south. In the city of about 325,000, this Mexican flight has manifested itself in a number of ways: Census data show a decline in the city's Latino population. Schools report plummeting enrollment. Foreclosed homes abound in historically Mexican immigrant neighborhoods.
In the past six years, Santa Ana Unified School District has reported a 10 percent drop in enrollment.
At least 10 students from the prestigious El Sol Science and Arts Academy have left in the past year to return with their families to Mexico, Children Learning Center coordinator Sara Flores said.
At the same time, the downtown Latino commercial district on Fourth Street is plagued with slumping sales and shuttered storefronts.
While analysts say it's a challenge to determine the number of migrants leaving the U.S. and where they are moving, anecdotal information suggests that legal and illegal immigrants are returning to their hometowns in Mexico, many to Guerrero state. (Orange County Register)
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