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Monday, August 01, 2005

A Decline in Mexican Immigration?

Matthew Dowd in the New York Times:

WITH nearly six million Mexicans living illegally in the United States, some Americans, particularly those in border states, are greatly worried about the costs of illegal immigration and have demanded that more be done to stem it. Modern-day "minutemen" patrol the border. Voters pass measures limiting the rights of illegal immigrants, and senators debate legislation to establish guest-worker programs. Certain elected officials and pundits focus on the perils of illegal immigration to score political points.

But chances are that there will be a substantial decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico in the next 20 years, and it won't be because of civilian border patrols, laws being passed, pronouncements by politicians, or as some would like, "building a wall on the border." Instead, the cause will be demographic trends within Mexico itself, trends that have been largely ignored in the debate over immigration...

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study highlights some of the change in immigration to the United States from the south. Pew predicts that the share of first-generation immigrants in the total Hispanic population in the United States will drop from about 40 percent in 2000 to closer to a third by 2020. Thus first-generation immigrants will decline by almost 20 percent as a share of the total Hispanic population in the United States.

If the trend continues, it could be that we've already seen the high-water mark of illegal Mexican immigration - put simply, the issue may be resolving itself.

For a rebuttal, read Mark Krikorian.

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