After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom entered the country without papers—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.
“We don’t know whether the wave will resume, but we do know that the current standstill is more than just a temporary pause,” said Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. “Net migration from Mexico has been at zero——and perhaps less——since 2007.”
“Heightened enforcement of immigration laws has made it more difficult, expensive and dangerous for Mexicans to try to enter the U.S. illegally,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. “In addition, the sluggish U.S. economy has weakened the jobs magnet, and changing demographics in Mexico have reduced the pool of potential migrants.”
The study found that while apprehensions at the border have declined, deportations of unauthorized Mexican immigrants——some of them picked up at work or after being arrested for other criminal violations——have risen to record levels. In 2010, nearly 400,000 unauthorized immigrants——73% of them Mexicans——were deported by U.S. authorities.
Although most unauthorized Mexican immigrants sent home by U.S. authorities say they plan to try to return, a growing share say they will not try to come back to the U.S. According to a survey by Mexican authorities of repatriated immigrants, 20% of labor migrants in 2010 said they would not return, compared with just 7% in 2005.