It is human nature to wander in search of better alternatives. Man traversed long distances to discover food, wealth, land, even the sources of livelihood since time immemorial. The country with the most emigrants on the planet is Mexico as 10% of native Mexicans dwell abroad, of which 97% leading to more than 12 million of them, reside in the United States. However, the scenario is changing now. Recently, the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the states, which began after 1970, has almost come to an end; the people have even begun retreating, creating a reverse flow of the masses.
The credit to the reverse immigration goes to the feeble US job market, particularly in the construction industry (thanks to the economic crisis of 2008), stringent regulations on border crossing and an increasing number of deportations. Availability of social security, healthcare and education has also become scarcer. U.S. legislation on illegal immigration has been bolstered with the fall of 2010, as it has been criminalized in many American states. The Mexican Repatriation program initiated by the U. S. to motivate the Mexicans to move back willingly, could not achieve considerable success and many immigrants were deported reluctantly.
In the recent past, incidents of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally have dropped by more than 70% which is a clear indication that fewer unauthorized immigrants are trying to cross. Also, a long-term decline in birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico, have been instrumental to bring about this change. The situation in Mexico is getting desirable too, attracting the people to return and add to the growing economy. Better access to basic necessities is reducing the incentive for Mexicans to leave the country. The share of immigrants forcefully sent home and who want to be back in the U.S., is constantly observing a fall.
Overall, the clouds of confusion tend to obscure the future perspectives and the situation on both the ends to be more esoteric. It is ambiguous how migration propensities will develop further and what ramifications this will have, both in the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. economy may regain and lure the migrants once again, or they will have to manage the gap produced in the economy by the departing migrants; while Mexico might advance its economy further, reducing the need for emigration, or the economy might even collapse due to the supplemental stress created by the returning migrants. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and wait to watch whether this is for better or for worse for either the U.S. or Mexico.
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