A new Pew Hispanic Center study finds that net migration to the U.S. from Mexico declined to zero between 2005 and 2010.
About 1.4 million Mexican immigrants arrived in the U.S during that time. But just as many Mexicans returned to Mexico -- possibly more, the study found.
Researchers at the center analyzed data from multiple Mexican and U.S. government sources, including their censuses.
Their findings suggest a stark reversal from the five years between 1995 and 2000, when, according to the researchers, 3 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S., but fewer than 700,000 went back.
“The U.S. economy, enforcement, and changes in Mexico economically and demographically,” said Jeffrey Passel, one of the study’s authors. “They’re all working toward lower flows of people coming to the U.S.”
He said the lack of U.S. jobs, the deportation of unauthorized immigrants by the U.S. government and lower fertility rates in Mexico all appear to claim partial responsibility for the shift.
And he said researchers found not only individual Mexicans returning, but also entire families, many with U.S.-born children.
The data suggest the end of a decades-long surge in immigration to the U.S. from Mexico dating to the 1970s.
“There’s no relationship between two countries in terms of movement of people anywhere in the world like there is between Mexico and the United States,” said Paul Taylor, the Pew Hispanic Center’s director.
During a conference call Monday, the study’s authors said there has been a net positive flow of Mexicans into the U.S. dating back at least to the 1930s.
“This is a historic wave which at least over a five year period has appeared to come to a standstill, “ Taylor said. “And given how important immigration is and will continue to be to our country, that alone seems to be quite significant.”
The study also found a decline in the population of undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the U.S., the first significant decrease in two decades. It found that there are 6.1 million unauthorized Mexicans living in the country in 2011, compared to 7 million four years earlier.
But the researchers emphasized that the data by no means suggests a decline in the U.S. Latino population. In an earlier analysis this year, they found that for the first time, U.S.-born Latinos have become a greater driver in the country’s Latino population than new immigrants.