Thanks To The Poor Economy, Net Illegal Immigration From Mexico Has Dropped To A Net Zero


It’s hard to quantify illicit activities. Illegal immigrants, after all, don’t exactly check in at our border stations when crossing into the country. But Michael Barone cites numbers from researchers at Princeton and a university in Guadalajara, Mexico showing that net illegal immigration from Mexico to the US is at a net zero.

Barone says he suspects these numbers are “in the ballpark.”

Massey cites the Census Bureau estimate that the illegal immigrant population within the United States fell from 12 million to 11 million between 2008 and 2009 and then opines that there has been a zero net balance of illegal immigration from Mexico since then. Escobar is cited for the proposition that migrants, legal and illegal, leaving Mexico dropped from 1 million in 2005 to 368,000 in 2010.

So what’s causing this decline in immigration, both legal and illegal? Mexico’s economy is growing quickly, and ours hasn’t been doing so great.

in the past two years Mexico’s growth rate has been on the order of 5% to 7%. It’s looking like Mexico’s growth rate is tied not to that of the United States but to that of Texas, which has been a growth leader because of its intelligent public policies which have prevented public employee unions from plundering the private sector economy.

Would-be immigrants, both illegal and legal, are essentially voting with their feet. Increasingly, they’re finding more opportunity in their homeland than here in the United States. Which makes sense. We have one of the lowest labor participation rates in America’s history right now. There aren’t enough jobs for legal citizens in America, let alone illegal immigrants.

I’ve long argued that the solution for illegal immigration lays more with our strong trade ties with Mexico than our domestic immigration policy. Just from the perspective of the rule of law, I think it’s deplorable that our federal government has abandoned so many aspects of our illegal immigration policy. They’ve made a real mess of things. But beyond talk of fences and border patrol, it’s clear that improvements in Mexico’s economy have lead to improvements in the illegal immigration issue.

This means that free trade works. Mexico is one of our largest trading partners, for everything from oil to manufactured goods, and that legal commerce flowing across the border has improved their economy to the point where there’s less illegal immigration across the border.

Sounds like a win to me, even if the trend also has a lot to do with our poor economy here in the US. Of course, this trend could reverse once we see some economic recovery.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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