WASHINGTON – The largest-ever wave of immigration to the United States from a single country has ended and may have started to reverse as growing numbers of Mexicans return to their homeland, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center.
The pause in immigration to the north is the result of different factors, including the sharp contraction of the U.S. construction industry, greater vigilance along the border, the increase in deportations and Mexico’s long-term decline in birth rates, Pew says.
The population of Mexican origin in the United States, which up until 1930 was under 1 million, began to increase at an accelerating rate in 1970.
“The U.S. today has more immigrants from Mexico alone – 12.0 million – than any other country in the world has from all countries of the world,” the report notes, adding that Mexicans make up nearly 30 percent of all foreign-born residents of the United States.
Pew said that it is possible that the wave of Mexican immigration into the United States will once again begin increasing as the U.S. economy recovers.
“Compared with other foreign-born residents of the U.S., Mexican-born immigrants are younger, less educated and less likely to speak English very well,” the Pew report says, citing tabulations from the 2010 American Community Survey.
Almost 51 percent of Mexican immigrants are living in the United States illegally, and 58 percent of the country’s approximately 11.2 million undocumented immigrants are Mexicans.
“The sharp downward trend in net migration from Mexico began about five years ago and has led to the first significant decrease in at least two decades in the unauthorized Mexican population,” the Pew report says.
Between 1995 and 2000, the study says, some 670,000 people migrated from the United States to Mexico compared with 2.94 million who traveled from Mexico to the United States.
During the period 2005 to 2010, 1.39 million people went from the United States to Mexico compared with a migration of 1.37 million going in the other direction.
“Of the 1.4 million people who migrated from the U.S. to Mexico since 2005, including about 300,000 U.S.-born children, most did so voluntarily, but a significant minority were deported and remained in Mexico,” according to Pew.
Between 2000 and 2010, births exceeded immigration as a cause of growth in the Mexican-American population.
“The population of Mexican-born residents of the U.S. is larger than the population of most countries or (U.S.) states,” the report points out. EFE