News Report: 91.2% of All Americans Who Live in Mexico Are Living There Illegally [UPDATED]

A February 28 report from Mexico’s Excélsior news outlet said that 91.2% of all Americans who live in Mexico are living there illegally. The percentage of undocumented Americans is based on findings from a 2015 census survey from Mexico’s Institute of Geography and Statistics.

According to the Excélsior report, it said that 739,168 U.S. citizens lived in Mexico during 2015, of which only 65,302 had legal residency. The report explained that this breakdown marked a 37.8% increase in Mexico’s undocumented population of Americans living there. These Americans, Excélsior noted, are not deported.

However, what the Excélsior report did not include or explore is whether or not a percentage of these U.S. citizens living in Mexico are also Mexican citizens and can claim dual citizenship (making a visa irrelevant for them). When Latino Rebels analyzed the actual survey, we saw that it did ask if any of these Americans living in Mexico could claim Mexican nationality, and about 47% said yes, but just because you claim Mexican nationality doesn’t mean you are a Mexican citizen. It is also unclear whether any of these Americans are authorized to reside in Mexico, a point that the Mexican government admits is extremely complex to track, as a 2012 report detailed (see page 12). The State Department says that 1 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico.

And as much as Excélsior reported a 91.2% figure, that percentage could very likely be lower based on the survey Latino Rebels saw, but there it still enough data to conclude that a very significant number of Americans living in Mexico are not there legally.

The Mexican newspaper also wrote that Donald Trump’s administration has already repatriated 11,328 Mexicans since it has taken office, and of those 11,328 individuals, 723 had previous convictions for narcotrafficking, kidnapping, transporting of weapons and other major crimes. In addition, Excélsior wrote that Mexican immigration authorities said that the others who have been deported were convicted of much lesser crimes or misdemeanors.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has yet to publish any 2017 removal statistics, but on March 3 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its January data about border apprehensions (which are not ICE deportations). Here is what Border Patrol said at that time: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw a decrease in apprehensions between our ports of entry and a decrease in individuals deemed inadmissible to enter the U.S. at our ports of entry along the Southwest Border in January 2017. Overall total migration remained at elevated levels, primarily due to family units and unaccompanied children from Central America, Haitian nationals migrating from Brazil, and Cuban nationals.”

(New CBP statistics from February are showing even more significant decreases.)

In 2012, the BBC published a story about Mexico’s own “illegals” problem:

[In 2011] about 1,000 US citizens were questioned over irregularities in their immigration status, according to Mexican authorities. They face a modest fine —up to $50— if officials find them working without a permit or living in Mexico without proper documents.

Those who lose their visas or are asked to leave the country and then discovered to be overstaying are fined up to $400.

In 2014, a Washington Post story said this: “While figures are hard to come by, some argue that U.S. citizens may make up the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Mexico.”

And for those of you who are wondering how Mexico’s American undocumented population compares to the United States’s Mexican undocumented population, here is what Pew reported last year:

Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, though their numbers had been declining in recent years. There were 5.8 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. that year, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates. Meanwhile, the number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico grew by 325,000 since 2009, to an estimated 5.3 million in 2014. Populations went up most for unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America, but the number also ticked up for those from sub-Saharan Africa. Increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants from other countries mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico.

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