Mexican migrations to US come to a halt

Weak job market and tougher border security see illegal residents stabilize

Deported migrants stand near a border fence in Tijuana, Mexico. / J. D. (REUTERS)

For the first time in 40 years, the migration wave of Mexicans crossing the border into the United States has come to a standstill, a Washington-based non-partisan research organization said in a report released on Monday.

Over the past four decades, some 12 million Mexicans migrated north, half of them illegally. But the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, says that the trend may have been reversed. Citing government data from both countries, Pew researchers say that there has been a sharp downturn in migration rates since 1995.

"As of March 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, virtually unchanged from a year earlier," says the report released on the Pew Hispanic Center website. "This stability in 2010 follows a two-year decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009, which was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth."

Among the reasons Pew researchers give for the standstill in migration include weakened US job and construction markets; tighter security on the US-Mexico border; rises in deportations; and the growing dangers connected with illegal border crossings.

Speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Tuesday, Mexican President Felipe Calderón attributed the leveling-off to better job opportunities in his country as well as improved medical coverage and education.

Calderón, a conservative who will leave office in December, explained to US investors at the meeting that his government has eliminated some 16,000 bureaucratic procedures to ease investment opportunities, meaning that it only takes two hours to register a company in some cases.

Mexicans make up about 58 percent of the unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, and account for 30 percent of all foreign-born nationals in the country. Chinese make up the next largest group of immigrants in the United States, but only account for five percent of the 40 million foreigners residing in the country.

Pew researchers say that the arrests of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally has also plummeted by more than 70 percent from 2005 to 2011.

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