By Michael Barone
Net illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen to zero, reports Amanda Peterson Beadle in a blogpost at the left-wing Think Progress. She cites Douglas Massey, founder of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University, and Agustin Escobar, a demographer at a university in Guadalajara, Mexico. I don’t regard these findings as definitive, but I suspect they’re very much 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.
It’s been apparent for some time that immigration from Mexico and Latin America fell off sharply during the 2007-09 recession and has not rebounded since. Illegals from Mexico are apparently continuing to self-deport (to use Mitt Romney’s term) and their numbers are not being replenished by illegals from that country. As I have frequently argued that we are probably at a turning point, and will never again see immigration from Mexico at the huge rates that prevailed from 1983 to 2007. Among the reasons: Mexico has been growing more prosperous, its birth rates declined sharply two decades ago and it now has a middle class majority (as former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda argues in his 2011 book Mañana Forever?). For some years I feared that Mexico could not achieve higher economic growth than the United States since our economies have been tied so tightly together by NAFTA since 1993. But 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. Anyway, looking ahead, anyone seeking changes in our immigration laws should keep in mind that immigration in the future is not likely to look like immigration in the recent past.
this article appeared on the Washington Examiner on 4/11/2012