Published on People Move

Are fewer Mexicans crossing the border to the United States?

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Migration flows in both directions between the United States and Mexico have diminished according to recent statistics released by the Mexican and United States governments.

Mexican immigration to the United States began to decline in the mid-2006, and that pattern has continued into 2010. The Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Mexican government data indicates that the number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined from more than one million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010. Rand Corporation also found that the Mexican immigrants returning to Mexico have not increased despite the crisis. 

It seems that U.S has become a less attractive place for Mexican migrants.  Some of the factors that explain the decline of new immigrants include: the crisis that it is affecting job possibilities, increased border enforcement by the US, the anti-immigrant measures in some states (e.g., Arizona), and an increase in the number of criminal activity in the borders.

The impact of strongest border controls has reduced the circularity of Mexican migration. Before, Mexicans used to go back to Mexico and come back to the U.S. when there was demand for labor.  With the new enforcement and criminal acts on the U.S.-Mexico border, there are lesser returns. Recent numbers from the US Office of Immigration Statistics showed that border patrol apprehensions in 2010 were at their lowest level since 1972 and fewer people are trying to cross the south border.  Although there are trying new entry points (e.g. by boat to California). 


The Assistant Secretary of Mexico’s Population, Migration and Religious Affairs, René Zenteno Quintero also stated that illegal migration to the U.S has dropped. Zenteno underscored that in 2005, “about 500,000 Mexican nationals made their way into the U.S. illegally and within the last two years between 100,000 to 200,000 continued unauthorized crossings into the U.S”.

Despite the adjustment in the flows, the stock of Mexican migrants has not been affected.



Sonia Plaza

Senior Economist, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice, World Bank

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