Sally Benson — April 7, 2016

Photo: iStock

In stark contrast to all the bloviating and blustering about building a wall and protecting our borders from – I can’t repeat it here – Mexicans, facts are facts. And the plain fact is that the number of migrants coming to the U.S. from Mexico has decreased dramatically over the past decade. According to figures tallied by the Pew Research Center, the U.S. experienced a net loss of 140,000 Mexican migrants from 2009 through 2014. That’s right; a net loss.

There’s been a steady decrease for years, and following the Great Recession, immigration to the U.S. from Mexico is well below its peak in the year 2000. Between 1995 and 2000, nearly 3 million Mexican-born migrants entered the U.S.; between 2005 and 2010, that number dropped to about 1.4 million. Most recently, in the years between 2009 and 2014, the number of Mexican immigrants entering the United States was about 870,000.

The road back to Mexico is more populated. During the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, about 1 million people left the U.S. to return to Mexico. In the five-year period prior to that – during the grind of the Recession – the figure was close to 1.4 million – basically matching the number of Mexicans coming in.

As Pew states it, “As the flow of new immigrants slows and the number of returnees remains high, the net flow from Mexico to the U.S. is now negative, though both flows are smaller than they were five years ago.”

So what does that mean for those currently in the U.S.? Pew: “The negative immigration flow from Mexico to the U.S. also is reflected in the number of Mexican immigrants currently residing in the U.S. with and without authorization, which has continued to drop since reaching its peak in 2007 – from 12.8 million to 11.7 million in 2014.” (My emphasis.)

There are many reasons for the flip-flop in numbers, among them increased pressure at the border in the U.S. Southwest and stepped-up enforcement of deportations. Pew states that the population of unauthorized Mexicans in the U.S. reached a peak of 6.9 million in 2007, and has since declined to about 5.6 million in 2014.

The decrease in new inflow doesn’t mean that the immigration system has been fixed – not by a long shot. And Pew offers some interesting facts about Mexico and immigration trends into the U.S.

  • Mexico is stopping more unauthorized Central American immigrants at its southern border. In 2015, the Mexican government enforced about 150,000 deportations of unauthorized immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – that’s a 44 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Despite increased enforcement by Mexico, many unauthorized Central Americans are still reaching the U.S. via Mexico. Numbers are rising, Pew states.
  • More Cubans are also traveling through Mexico to reach the U.S. Who knows how this will change with the relaxation of historically icy – and prohibitive – relations?
  • More Mexicans now say life is about the same in the U.S. and Mexico. The recession took a toll on everyone; still, Pew says, about half of Mexican adults believe that life is better in the U.S., and about 35 percent say they’d move to the U.S. if they had the opportunity and the means to do so.

Immigration reform in the U.S. won’t happen during an election year, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean we stop working on it. Let’s be prepared, let’s do our homework, let’s rely on facts.

Read more: The road to immigration reform

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