The Effects of Mexican Immigration on the United States
Since the early 2000s, Mexican immigrants have been one of the largest groups of immigrants coming into the United States. In 2010, there were about 11.2 million Mexican immigrants living in the United States, making up about 31% of all immigrants in the country (Passel & Cohn, 2011). Mexican immigrants are also more likely than other immigrant groups to be in the United States illegally. In 2010, about 6.1 million Mexican immigrants (or 55% of all Mexican immigrants) were living in the United States without legal permission (Passel & Cohn, 2011).
There are a number of reasons why Mexicans have been coming to the United States in large numbers since the early 2000s. First, Mexico’s economy has been struggling since the early 1990s, when a major recession hit the country. The recession was caused in part by a decrease in demand for Mexican exports (such as oil and coffee), and by high interest rates set by the Mexican government to try to control inflation. As a result of the recession, many Mexicans lost their jobs and were unable to find work. This made it difficult for them to support themselves and their families.
Second, Mexican wages have remained relatively low even as wages in other countries have increased. In 2003, the average hourly wage in Mexico was about $3.50, while the average hourly wage in the United States was about $18.00 (Goldstein, 2004). This means that Mexicans who come to the United States can earn much more money than they could if they stayed in Mexico.
Third, many Mexicans come to the United States because they have family members who are already living here. In 2010, about 38% of Mexican immigrants said that they came to the United States because they had family members here (Passel & Cohn, 2011). When Mexicans come to the United States to join their family members, it is called “chain migration.”
Fourth, U.S. immigration policies make it difficult for Mexicans to come to the United States legally. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted legal status to undocumented immigrants who had been living in the United States since 1982 (Goldstein, 2004). However, this law did not make it any easier for Mexicans to come to the United States legally. As a result, many Mexicans choose to come to the United States illegally.
Fifth, violence and crime have increased in Mexico in recent years. In 2006, Mexico’s president declared a “war on drugs” after drug-related violence began increasing throughout the country (Rosenthal & Dohrn, 2009). Since then, drug cartels have been fighting each other for control of drug trafficking routes into the United States. This fighting has led to an increase in violence and crime throughout Mexico. As a result, many Mexicans have chosen to leave Mexico and come to the United States where they feel they will be safer from violence and crime.
2. Causes of Mexican-US Immigration:
The primary cause of Mexican-US immigration is economic disparity between these two countries which drives people from Mexico towards US shores in pursuit of better prospects (Hirschman cited in Cornelius et al., 1994). According to Cornelius et al., 1994; Portes and Rumbaut 1996; Hirschman 1945), people migrate when ‘push’ factors in their place of origin exceed ‘pull’ factors in the destination. ‘Push’ factors are those which make people leave their countries like poverty, unemployment, political instability, human rights violations etc. On the other hand, ‘pull’ factors are those which attract migrants to other countries like better economic prospects, family reunion, political asylum etc. The economic disparity between Mexico and US acts as a major push factor for Mexican migration. The per capita income in Mexico is one fourth of that in US (World Development Indicators 2009). In addition, the average hourly earnings of a Mexican worker are only one-tenth of a US worker (Goldstein 2004). This makes it very difficult for people in Mexico to make ends meet. Moreover, the proportion of Mexicans living below the national poverty line has increased from 42.7% in 2000 to 52.4% in 2010 (CONEVAL 2011). In contrast, the poverty rate in US has remained relatively stable during this period (DeNavas-Walt et al., 2011). Thus, it is not surprising that people from Mexico migrate to US in search of better economic opportunities.
3. Effects of Mexican-US Immigration:
There are both positive and negative effects of Mexican-US immigration. On the positive side, Mexican immigrants have helped to grow the United States economy. In 2010, Mexican immigrants sent $12 billion back to Mexico in the form of remittances (Passel & Cohn, 2011). This money helps to support the Mexican economy by providing a source of income for Mexicans who would otherwise not have any income. In addition, Mexican immigrants have helped to grow the United States coffee industry. In 2003, Mexican immigrants made up about 30% of all workers in the United States coffee industry (Goldstein, 2004). These workers pick and process coffee beans that are then sold to coffee companies. Without these workers, it would be difficult for coffee companies to get the coffee beans they need to make their products.
On the negative side, Mexican immigration has put strain on some social programs in the United States. For example, many Mexican immigrants come to the United States without legal permission and do not have health insurance. As a result, they often rely on social programs like Medicaid for their health care needs. In 2010, about 3 million Mexican immigrants (or 27% of all Mexican immigrants) were enrolled in Medicaid (Passel & Cohn, 2011). This is costly for taxpayers because they must foot the bill for these immigrants’ health care costs. In addition, many Mexican immigrants are enrolled in Social Security. However, because they are in the United States illegally, they often cannot legally work and do not pay taxes into the Social Security system. As a result, they receive more money from Social Security than they pay into it. In 2010, about 1 million Mexican immigrants received $18.1 billion from Social Security (Passel & Cohn, 2011). This cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Mexican immigration has also led to an increase in deportations from the United States. In 2010, about 400,000 Mexicans were deported from the United States (Passel & Cohn, 2011). This is costly for both the United States and Mexico because it costs money to detain and deport immigrants. It is also disruptive for families because it can separate parents from their children or spouses from each other.
Overall, Mexican immigration has both positive and negative effects on the United States. Mexican immigrants have helped to grow the United States economy, but they have also put strain on some social programs. Mexican immigration has also led to an increase in deportations from the United States.