Patterns, Trends, And Policies Essay

894 words - 4 pages

Despite its history as a immigrant nation, there are ongoing debates in the United States (US) concerning the appropriate levels and types of migration. According to 2011 estimates, a record high of 40.4 million immigrants lived in the US (Britz and Batalova 2013). In fact, between 2009 and 2013, the US hosted roughly 20% of the total international migrant stock. Immigration has been increasing rapidly since a historic low rate2 of 5% was reported in 1970, largely due to influxes of people from Latin America and Asia. Presently, Mexican immigrants are the most numerous US Hispanic-origin group (see Figure 1), representing the largest wave of migration to the US from a single country (Lopez, ...view middle of the document...

Constant and Massey (2002) view migration as a cost-benefit decision, which takes into account factors such as the wage differential and culture at both destination and origin country. Therefore, return migration is said to occur when expectations for higher wages in the destination countries are not met or when the ‘psychic costs of moving are higher than anticipated’ such as culture shock and homesickness (p. 10). Mexican immigration appears to follow this return pattern.

The other factor involved in declining immigration is fewer people coming in due to heightened US enforcement of undocumented migration, particularly affecting Mexican immigrants through unforgiving border policies. There was also a significant rise in the number of deportations. Passel, Cohn, and Gonzalez-Barrera (2012) estimate that between 2007-2012, anywhere from 5-35% of Mexican immigrants returned involuntarily. In addition to these higher risks associated with crossing the border, several states passed laws to stem the flow of undocumented migrants. For example, in Washington, farmers rely on seasonal agriculture workers, another industry heavily populated by Mexican-origin migrants, of whom as many as 70% (of the 1.2 million employees) are undocumented, to harvest their crops each year (Serrano 2012). However, new state anti-immigration laws have forced migrants to go to more hospitable areas, which has caused ‘acute labor shortages’ in some areas as well as substantial capital losses of up to $9 billion, presenting a major threat to both migrant and native-born livelihoods. Comparable laws have been adopted in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona, all of which are now struggling with similar challenges.

Works Cited

Britz, E., & Batalova, J. (2013). Frequently requested statistics on immigrants and immigration in the United...

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