More Mexican migrants leave the US than enter – study

The number of Mexicans living in the US has dropped by more than a million in less than a decade, marking a historic shift: more Mexican migrants now leave the States than enter. In most of those cases, rejoining family was the reason to move back home.

Between 2009 and 2014, 1 million Mexicans, including their US-born children, have left America. During the same period, an estimated 870,000 Mexicans came to the United States, Pew Research Center’s latest analysis of government data from both the US and Mexico showed.

The flow of Mexican citizens to the US has been declining steadily since reaching its peak in 2000. By comparison, approximately 3 million Mexicans came to the US in the five-year period between 1995 and 2000. In the following five years, this number dropped nearly in half, to about 1.4 million people.

According to the survey, the number of Mexican migrants living in the US has also declined, from 12.8 million in 2007 to 11.7 million in 2014.

Mexican Immigrant Population in the U.S. in Decline

Part of the reason for that dip, researchers suggested, was the slow recovery of the US economy after the Great Recession, which made Mexico’s northern neighbor less attractive. However, this is just one of several reasons that explain the drop.

In over 60 percent of all cases, family reunion or starting a family was a major motivation for leaving the US. In other cases, the move was due to deportation (14 percent) or work (3 percent).

Family Reunification Main Reason for Return Mexican Migrants to Go Home

The number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants has declined, too. Pew Research Center estimated that in 2014 there were about 5.6 million Mexicans residing in the US illegally. In 2007, this number stood at 6.9 million. The survey links the drop to tougher enforcement at the southwest border.

Mexican Unauthorized Immigrant Population in the U.S. Below Its Peak

“In fiscal 2013, deportations of Mexican immigrants reached a record high of nearly 315,000, an increase of 86 percent since 2005, when a policy shift made it more likely that Mexican border crossers would get deported, be barred from legal re-entry for a number of years and risk criminal prosecution if entering illegally again in the future,” the survey’s authors concluded.

Additionally, the drop in the number of Mexicans living in the US is reflected in communication between those who used to live in the States and those who still do.

“In 2007, 42% of Mexican adults said they kept in contact with acquaintances living in the US, while today, 35% say so,” the study said.

Another factor is the quality of life in Mexico. Less than half of Mexicans (48 percent) said that life in the US is better now. More and more people believe that “it is neither better nor worse” than in Mexico, with over 30 percent saying that those who move to the US lead a life that is equivalent to that in Mexico.

Still, the number of those who say they would move to the US remains quite high, with 35 percent admitting that they would relocate if they had an opportunity. Of these, 20 percent said they would do it illegally.