This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mexico is Now Dealing With the US Undocumented Immigration Issue--UPDATED

With any luck you saw the Pew Research report a couple of weeks ago in which they estimate that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has been declining. This is due mainly to the fact that the migration of undocumented Mexicans into the U.S. has dropped precipitously over the last decade as the birth rate in Mexico has fallen and the economy has grown. The “demographic fit” between the U.S. and Mexico has pretty much ended, but that doesn’t mean the end of undocumented immigration.

My thanks to Professor Rubén Rumbaut for pointing me to an article from the Center for American Progress highlighting the increasingly important role that Mexico is playing in coping with migrants. In the first place, they have been coping with a large number of Mexican migrants who have been deported from the U.S. back to Mexico. The Pew report reminds us that the number of deportations of people back to Mexico increased dramatically first under the Bush administration and then particularly under the Obama administration. Indeed, I noted a few years ago that Obama was being called the “deporter-in-chief.” This has not been easy for Mexico to deal with, as these people are typically dumped across the border with few resources of their own. The Mexican government’s programs are under-funded although at least some of the slack has been taken up by non-profit organizations.

The second and more dramatic issue is the role being played by Mexico as an increasing number of migrants leave the “northern triangle” countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, to seek refuge in the north from the horrific conditions they face in their respective countries.

Mexico is facing new challenges as millions of Mexican migrants return from the United States and Central Americans seek asylum and safe passage through the country. Historically, Mexico has been a predominantly immigrant-sending country. Political unrest and violence in Central America, heavy-handed immigration enforcement in the United States, and increased development in Mexico has made Mexico a country of destination, return, and transit. Each of these roles demands a unique, humane, and thorough policy response.
My own view is that the United States needs to provide governmental support to Mexico to deal with this situation, while at the same time encouraging public-private investments in Mexico and the northern triangle countries to improve the quality of life and thereby reduce the pressures people face to get out of there and head north. Like everything associated with migration, this won’t be easy, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be.

UPDATE: Today the Washington Post reported that the U.S. will provide more aid to Mexico and Central American governments in renewed attempts to cut down the migration from Central America.
The United States announced a total contribution of $10.6 billion, most of which will be allocated from existing aid programs. Around $4.5 billion of that sum comes from new loans, loan guarantees and other private-sector support that could become available through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
The Mexican government said it would contribute $25 billion to development in southern Mexico over five years, which López Obrador has suggested could serve as a source of employment to Central Americans who are granted work visas. 
López Obrador “has to take advantage of this opportunity, this honeymoon with Trump and Mexico,” said Rafael Fernández de Castro, a former senior Mexican foreign affairs official and now director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California at San Diego.
The WP thinks this may be mostly symbolic, but at least it is a step in the right direction. 

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