About a week ago I wrote about the recent phenomenon that highly skilled, highly educated first and second generation Indian-Americans, Chinese-Americans and others are returning to their native countries.
They are the young sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, of Indian, Chinese, Russian, Brazilian immigrants — some born here in the United States, some having immigrated as young children.
They are bright, educated, with language skills and cultural knowledge and successful.
I asked, why are they leaving the land of opportunity and I posited:
Because opportunity is now calling in India, China and other countries where new markets are opening; where new e-commerce, internet and high-tech businesses are exploding and where businesses, organizations — even governments — spare no effort, investment or tax incentives to attract these enterprising young people.
And, quoting the New York Times, I added, “most [emigrants] said they had been pushed by the dismal hiring climate in the United States…”
Today, the Washington Post, USA Today and other publications are discussing the latest reports that for the first time since the Depression more Mexicans are returning to Mexico than coming to the United States.
Douglas Massey, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University and co-director of the Mexican Migration Project, says, “I think the massive boom in Mexican immigration is over and I don’t think it will ever return to the numbers we saw in the 1990s and 2000s.” Massey has been gathering data on this subject for 30 years.
Nearly 1.4 million Mexicans moved from the United States to Mexico between 2005 and 2010, double the number who did so a decade earlier. The number of Mexicans who moved to the United States during that period fell to less than half of the 3 million who came between 1995 and 2000.
According to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center, the Mexican-born population, which had been increasing since 1970, peaked at 12.6 million in 2007 and has dropped to 12 million since then.
The influx of Mexicans, which has dominated U.S. immigration patterns for four decades, began to tumble in 2006 and 2007 as the housing bust and recession created a dearth of jobs. At the same time, the number of Mexicans returning to their native country along with their U.S.-born children soared.
As to the reasons for the reversal, sources attribute it to, among others, a weak U.S. job and housing construction market, stricter border enforcement, improving social conditions in Mexico, a decline in Mexican birthrates.
Gustavo Velasquez, 38, who came from Oaxaca, Mexico, 12 years ago and serves as the director of the D.C. Office on Human Rights, said that the scarcity of U.S. jobs is causing more Mexicans to think twice about moving.
It is better to be unemployed in Mexico than to be unemployed in the United States, he said, because most migrant workers leave their families in Mexico. “They miss the warmth of being in a welcoming community,” he said, adding that with tougher border control and more deportations, Mexicans would rather be in a “precarious situation than in a situation of fear.”
The Post also adds, “Whether the reversal is temporary or permanent, it could have significant implications for the United States. Many Mexican immigrants work in agriculture and construction.”
While there may also be political implications and repercussions in this election year as both parties struggle with the immigration issue (Read more here), my hope is that these two developments ( the “reverse brain drain” and the “U-turn” in Mexican immigration) while perhaps good news to some, are not symptoms portending more deep and protracted flaws and trends in our social and economic fabric, respectively. I firmly believe that, since the time of our founding, the diversity brought about by continued immigration from all parts of the world has been the ongoing catalyst that has helped make our country great.
Pleased that the following from the Post indicates that the United States is still the land where people from all over the world hope to find and realize the “American Dream.”
The drop [in Mexican immigration]comes at a time when overall immigration to the United States continues to grow ..
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer who has had the honor, the privilege, and the reward of serving his adopted country for 20 years proudly in both the enlisted and commissioned ranks, under six presidents – Republican and Democratic. Not once did he have the feeling that his commander in chief did not have his back, did not value his service, did not appreciate the minor sacrifices his family and he endured. In particular, never once the thought even occurred that, one day, a President of the United States would denigrate the troops and their service… would call those who did not return from battle “losers” and “suckers.”