In Mexico, 'People Do Really Want to Stay'
Chicken Farmers Fear U.S. Exports Will Send More Workers North
Baby Boom Fuels EmigrationThe demographic wave that has carried unprecedented numbers of Mexicans to the United States is the consequence of a baby boom that began in Mexico four decades ago, when improvements in rural health care allowed more infants to survive.From 1993 to 2006, as those born during the boom reached adulthood, Mexicans of working age swelled from 34 million to 44 million, according to Agustin Escobar, a sociologist at the Center for Higher Research in Social Anthropology in Guadalajara. Over the same period, Mexico's businesses added only 8 million jobs that pay decent wages and benefits, exacerbating a backlog of about 15 million Mexicans needing work, Escobar said.Population pressure, combined with the lifting of subsidies on the farm, sent rural Mexicans in search of higher wages. They moved within Mexico in vast numbers. Many crossed the border. By 2002, 14 percent of all people born in Mexican villages were living in the United States, according to J. Edward Taylor, an agricultural economist at the University of California at Davis. Mexicans in the United States sent home nearly $17 billion in 2004, according to the Bank of Mexico.
"If you want to buy a house, you have to go to the States," Escobar said. "People go to America to make their Mexican dream come true."
NAFTA, as the politicians sold it, was supposed to make Mexican dreams attainable at home.Mexico's government promised that the pact would add 1 million jobs a year. But jobs have been created at roughly half that rate. Mexico's economy has grown less than 3 percent a year since NAFTA. Not even a sustained expansion of 5 percent a year would have been enough to stem the surge of immigrants headed north, given the numbers of Mexicans entering the workforce, declared the 1997 Mexico-U.S. Binational Migration Study.
From an Organization of American States 2003 Annual Report on Mexican Immigration.
157. According to the latest census done by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2001 some 20.6 million persons of Mexican origin were living in United States (7.3% of the total U.S. population). Of these persons, 8 to 8.5 million were born in Mexican territory, and 3 to 3.5 million reside in the United States irregularly. According to figures from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for the year 2000, 130,000 Mexican emigrate legally to the United States each year; another 3.4 million enter the United States with various non-immigrant visas, while each year there are 213,000 temporary crossings of the Mexico-U.S. border. The INS figures estimate that each year approximately 150,000 Mexicans cross the border irregularly. In the last two years the number of irregular crossings has increased. Indeed, according to projections by the Latin American Center for Demographics (CELADE), in the 2000-2005 period, the rate of emigration of Mexicans to the United States is expected to reach 2.9 per 1,000, which would mean an annual exit of some 300,000 Mexicans to the United States.