With contentious rhetoric regarding immigration reaching fever pitch in the wake of increased Syrian refugee migration, new statistics from Pew present a startling development: Mexican-born immigrantsare returning home in greater numbers than in anytime in recent history. In fact, from 2009 to 2014, America saw a net loss of approximately 150,000 Mexican immigrants, with 870,000 coming to the U.S. and around one million returning to Mexico.
This runs in stark contrast to previous decades, which saw the number of immigrants catapult fromthree million to 13 million. Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research for Pew, says the decline in recent years can largely be attributed to the sluggish U.S. economy, an improved Mexican economy, and stricter border controls.
Another factor may be the slow decline of social networks for Mexican-born migrants, who are reporting significantly less contact with friends and family than in previous years.
“The nature of immigration itself is beginning to change,” says Lopez. “It looks like Mexican migration is at an end.”
However, while fewer Mexican immigrants may be settling in the U.S., there has been an uptick in migration from Central America, China, India, and other Asian countries. In fact, in 2013, China superseded Mexico to become the top source of U.S. immigrants, contributing 147,000 people.
For perspective, while the United States has committed to accepting five times more Syrian refugeesthis year than in the previous five years, that number will still amount to only 10,000, which is approximately 0.004% of the population.
Meanwhile, advocates like Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, who has called for lower levels of immigration, says the decrease seen in recent studies should not be cited as evidence that immigration in the United States is down. He says work visas and family migration rules obscure the true number. He also cites the increase in foreign nationals who emigrate from their home countries to pursue lives in America.
Regardless of whose logic or ideology you use, the new Pew study confirms fewer Mexican-born immigrants are settling in the United States, and the country’s declining economic conditions are a primary factor. Even with the falling numbers, you can be sure immigration will be a major source of partisan vitriol in the upcoming 2016 presidential election, with Republicans exploiting the recent terror attacks and using fear-mongering and xenophobia to score political points while obfuscating an increasingly complex issue.