When It Comes to Mexican Immigration, Americans Like to Avoid Actual Facts

Nov 15, 2011
10:11 am

There is something about facts that perplexes us. Facts seem to serve someone's (read GOP candidates) arguments only when the facts support their argument. So, instead of using actual facts, many politicians (and the base they cater to) just ignore them and continue to spew their rhetoric.

Take the case of immigration.

FACT: Both Mexican and American data confirm that the tide of unauthorized border crossings from Mexico to the US southern border has decreased.

As reported by The Los Angeles Times:


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.

The scale of the fall has prompted some to suggest that a decades-long migration boom may be ending, even as others argue that the decline is only momentary.

"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.

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 Citynews conference in August hosted by Zenteno.

Experts in Mexico say the trend is primarily economic. Long-standing back-and-forth migration has been thrown off as the U.S. downturn dried up jobs — in construction and restaurants, for example — that once drew legions of Mexican workers.

About 12.5 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States, slightly more than half without papers, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

These days, Mexicans in the United States have discouraging words for loved ones about prospects for work up north. U.S. contractors who used to recruit in Mexico likewise have little to offer.

"What stimulates migration is the need for workers," said Genoveva Roldan, a scholar at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "Right now, the migrant networks are functioning to say, 'Don't come — there's no work.' "

So, while we keep hearing about electric fences and walls to keep people out, fact is that less people are coming from Mexico for the very same reason that Americans are interested in: jobs.