Mexico’s New Immigrants

January 21, 2013

U.S. media coverage of Mexican migration themes focuses on the outflow of people from south of the border to north of the border. But for some, Mexico is viewed as a land of opportunity and a promising new home.  Despite the well-publicized violence that slammed Mexico in recent years, the country continued to attract immigrants.

A new study released this month by the Organization of American States (OAS) reported that the documented, foreign-born population in the country increased 45 percent from 2005 to 2010, reaching 850,000 people. Focusing on documented migrants,  the OAS study reported that 65,000 immigrants came to Mexico in 2010 alone.

In terms of the national origin breakdown of new immigrants in the three-year period from 2007 to 2010, the study found that most came from the U.S. (10,472), seconded by Colombia (5,563) and followed by Guatemala (5,563). Cuba placed fourth on the list (4,871), Argentina fifth (4,242), Venezuela (3,950) sixth and Honduras seventh (3,755). Smaller populations of between approximately 1200 and 2100 people each hailed from El Salvador, Peru, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and China.

Lately, new and relaxed Cuban travel policies have  sparked commentary in the Mexican media about a possible influx of  Cubans,  especially a brain-drain of professionals, who would first come to Mexico as visitors but then stay on to work and live.  But a pair of Cuban citizens interviewed outside the Mexican Consulate in Havana discounted such a possibility, saying that Cubans had long been accustomed to traveling to Mexico for different purposes.

“The majority come back,”  a man identified only as Rafael was quoted. “But there is always someone who likes it over there and stays a longer time working,  or gets married and comes back only to visit. Others  go to Mexico with a work contract and from there cross over to the United States because they prefer Miami.  There is a bit of everything.”

For Mexico’s new immigrants,  the OAS study found that work, family and retirement were the top reasons for moving to the country.  In the case of Central Americans, the report’’s  authors speculated that changed conditions in the United States were altering the nature of migration from Mexico’s southern neighbors.

“Some of these movements are made up of nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, for whom Mexico,  due to the difficult conditions in the north, has possibly been  transformed into more of a destination than a transit country.”
Looking  at the immigration numbers of  persons who go through the legal channels,  the OAS report still falls short in calculating the overall number of immigrants currently residing in Mexico since it does not take into account the undocumented population.

Sources:  Reforma, January 18, 2013. Articles by  Itxaro Arteta and Yolanda Martinez.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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