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Are Mexicans giving up on the US?

Posted by on May. 1, 2012 at 6:34 PM
  • 32 Replies

03:08 PM ET

Zakaria: Are Mexicans giving up on U.S?

Editor's Note: Tune in Sunday at 10a.m. or 1p.m. ET for Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

This past week, the Supreme Court deliberated over a controversial Arizona immigration law. It comes amidst a climate of hostility. Just look at what candidates said during the Republican primaries:

"Mitt Romney will complete construction of a high-tech fence," the candidate announced on his campaign website. Michele Bachmann promised to "build a double-walled fence." And Herman Cain said: "We're going to have a fence; it's going to be 20 feet high; it's going to have barbed wire on the top."

The fence in question guards a third of America's 2,000 mile-long border with Mexico. Supporters of harsher laws argue that 3 out of every 5 illegal immigrants are from Mexico. But just as American hostility is reaching a crescendo, the problem might be disappearing.

I was struck by a Pew report I saw this week. It says a historic pattern of migration has been reversed. Comparing two recent five-year blocks, the report finds that not only has the number of Mexicans immigrating to the U.S. declined by 50 percent (from 3 million to about 1.4 million), the number of Mexicans going the other way back home has doubled. Seven hundred thousand Mexicans in the U.S. moved back between 1995 and 2000. But that number increased to 1.4 million between 2005 and 2010.

The decline in illegal immigrants is no surprise. Even President Obama has spent more on immigration enforcement than his predecessor. What is surprising however, is the drop in net legal migration.

This has several explanations. The U.S. economy is weaker. On the other hand, Mexico's economy is strengthening. Its GDP per capita is 15,000 dollars - about a third that of America's.

Some of Mexico's competitiveness is due to NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because it avoids U.S. tariffs, its exports work out to be cheaper than China's. Last year, Mexico did 400 billion dollars worth of business with the U.S. That's more than Argentina and Brazil combined.

But whatever the set of reasons behind the Pew findings, immigration is always determined by both pull-and-push - the need to leave a place is as crucial as the lure of a new destination.

So, are we losing our allure?

If that's the case, that's not good news. The U.S. has always benefitted from being demographically dynamic. A major advantage we have over Japan, Europe, and even China is that our population will continue to expand. And it's been expanding with young people who are hard-working and full of drive and pay lots of taxes.

Look at the data: The median age in the U.S. was about 37 years in 2010. China's was lower at 34 years. But come 2050, that dynamic will be reversed, thanks to decades of Beijing's one-child policy and American immigration. The median age here will be 40 but in China it will hit nearly 49 years.

An aging country creates a deficit of workers and a surplus of retirees who spend. Our demographic advantage holds true against a number of countries. We're projected to be better off demographically than France, the UK, Korea, Spain, and, of course, Japan.

This demographic advantage is entirely due to immigration. The United States has a fertility rate not so different from European countries, so our population gains (and these are gains in young people) come entirely from immigration.

The Pew Study shows we've clamped down on illegal immigration. But it also shows that Mexicans don't want to come here as much legally as they did before. So it is actually a mixed picture.

In trying to one-up each other on building bigger and higher fences, demonizing illegals, and hoping that they self-deport, we seem to have forgotten that it is the spirit of acceptance and hospitality that has made America so attractive to legal immigrants for centuries. Let's hope we can stay that way.

Tune in Sunday at 10a.m. or 1p.m. ET for Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

tz.fareed.zakaria
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Topics: Immigration • Mexico • Politics • United States

by on May. 1, 2012 at 6:34 PM
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Replies (1-10):
muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on May. 1, 2012 at 9:52 PM

BUMP!

_Kissy_
by on May. 1, 2012 at 10:28 PM

"This has several explanations. The U.S. economy is weaker. On the other hand, Mexico's economy is strengthening. Its GDP per capita is 15,000 dollars - about a third that of America's.

Some of Mexico's competitiveness is due to NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because it avoids U.S. tariffs, its exports work out to be cheaper than China's. Last year, Mexico did 400 billion dollars worth of business with the U.S. That's more than Argentina and Brazil combined."
 

Euphoric
by Bazinga! on May. 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM

 bump

jllcali
by on May. 1, 2012 at 11:19 PM
2 moms liked this
Meh. Any politician who claims they are going to close the borders by building a fence is either full of shit and blowing smoke or has their head up their ass. It would take billions and billions of dollars just to build an effective wall along both borders and manned posts along both coastlines, not too mention surveillance equipment name man hours needed to effectively close the borders. A politician would never to either lack the brain power to assess the situation to realize what it entails to be effective, or they realize what it will take and know it's never going to happen and are just telling people what they want to hear just to get the vote.
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stormcris
by Christy on May. 1, 2012 at 11:41 PM

I think they might see Brazil as a better alternative but I could be wrong.

iluv2meow
by on May. 2, 2012 at 12:30 AM
1 mom liked this

I dunno meow... Im on the fence about this... If we build a fence then they cant help themselves to go back home again...

Id rather stick with what AZ is doing. I think we should allow the illegals to either stay and make their own lives hell or just go home on their own. Saves money too.

Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on May. 2, 2012 at 1:31 AM

I think putting our Military on the borders is what should happen.  Because, we need to protect our borders from drug cartels & terrorists coming into our Country.  I think since Mexico, is doing much better, perhaps more Illegals will go back home.  Americans now have found their jobs going to Mexico, so they also are going to Mexico.  As far as the millions of illegals that are already here, they should just not get any PA or have any Employers hiring them.  Then, perhaps they would return back to Mexico. I do believe the ones that are here already, should work on being legal.  Give them a certain time period, and IF they haven't become a citizen yet, then they are to be deported.  To me, it doesn't sound that difficult like the way they seem to say.  It's all about 'votes' for them.  The Legal Hispanics.  I think it's just unbelieveable to me, that ppl can stay here & be illegal and nothing is being done. 

Quoting iluv2meow:

I dunno meow... Im on the fence about this... If we build a fence then they cant help themselves to go back home again...

Id rather stick with what AZ is doing. I think we should allow the illegals to either stay and make their own lives hell or just go home on their own. Saves money too.


muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on May. 2, 2012 at 1:38 AM

The decline in illegal immigrants is no surprise. Even President Obama has spent more on immigration enforcement than his predecessor. What is surprising however, is the drop in net legal migration.

This has several explanations. The U.S. economy is weaker. On the other hand, Mexico's economy is strengthening. Its GDP per capita is 15,000 dollars - about a third that of America's.

Some of Mexico's competitiveness is due to NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because it avoids U.S. tariffs, its exports work out to be cheaper than China's. Last year, Mexico did 400 billion dollars worth of business with the U.S. That's more than Argentina and Brazil combined.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I think putting our Military on the borders is what should happen.  Because, we need to protect our borders from drug cartels & terrorists coming into our Country.  I think since Mexico, is doing much better, perhaps more Illegals will go back home.  Americans now have found their jobs going to Mexico, so they also are going to Mexico.  As far as the millions of illegals that are already here, they should just not get any PA or have any Employers hiring them.  Then, perhaps they would return back to Mexico. I do believe the ones that are here already, should work on being legal.  Give them a certain time period, and IF they haven't become a citizen yet, then they are to be deported.  To me, it doesn't sound that difficult like the way they seem to say.  It's all about 'votes' for them.  The Legal Hispanics.  I think it's just unbelieveable to me, that ppl can stay here & be illegal and nothing is being done. 

Quoting iluv2meow:

I dunno meow... Im on the fence about this... If we build a fence then they cant help themselves to go back home again...

Id rather stick with what AZ is doing. I think we should allow the illegals to either stay and make their own lives hell or just go home on their own. Saves money too.



Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on May. 2, 2012 at 2:59 AM

no one should be surprised.. I mean, have you read some of the shit that is spewed in here? Even against the legal immigrants. Americans are the country's own worst enemy. Arrogant and hateful. 

iluv2meow
by on May. 2, 2012 at 3:22 AM

I think you are being unrealistic about the whole idea of illegal immigration. Mexico alone (illegal mexicans) there are well over 10 million of them living in the USA today. This is a FACT. There is no way in hell we have the funds to track 10 million illegal mexicans much less the other millions that are from other countries.

UNFORTUNATELY, the illegal mexicans have ruined this so called land of OPPORTUNITY for others by taking advantage of our country... They left immigration with a bad taste in the mouth for many... Mexicans are not the only immigrants in this country WILLING to work crap jobs. They are not the ONLY immigrant here to better their lives. They are not the ONLY immigrant willilng to work farm work... The only reason why we see them more is because Mexicans are LARGEST in population for illegal immigrants. I find it sad that people ASSume that just because they only see mexicans doing odd jobs or whatever, apparently they must be the ONLY ones. False. America chose to discriminate by hiring the larger in number, perhaps availability with willing ness. I can assure you that there are other immigrants in this country living here illegally would be glad to have any job to have the opportunity to reside in America....

Secondly you speak of monitoring the boreder... We have been but building a wall is absurd. As much as I hate illegals entering my country (believe me I dislike it to the max) I also know that building walls is insane and makes us look terrible. Read your history! Look how many countries performed this same behavior building WALLS to seperate themselves from another country. Im sorry but no im not doing that... While i agree we do need to protect our country and our country needs to be monitored, i would suggest we do it without WALLS. I refuse to look like asshats acting all selfrighteous when many walls have been put up to only be brought down again.

The solution to the illegal issues of illegal immigrants regardless who they are what country they come from, is doing what Arizona does. make the state laws with strict immigration laws and enforce them. I have no doubt i will no longer depend or even trust the Federal to do their job (ICE). I think it is time to allow the states to decide, what they want to do and how they want to handle immigrations that are residing illegally.

Again, it will save us MORE MONEY if we do state laws verses hiring someone to deport 10 million illegals. That is unrealistic.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I think putting our Military on the borders is what should happen.  Because, we need to protect our borders from drug cartels & terrorists coming into our Country.  I think since Mexico, is doing much better, perhaps more Illegals will go back home.  Americans now have found their jobs going to Mexico, so they also are going to Mexico.  As far as the millions of illegals that are already here, they should just not get any PA or have any Employers hiring them.  Then, perhaps they would return back to Mexico. I do believe the ones that are here already, should work on being legal.  Give them a certain time period, and IF they haven't become a citizen yet, then they are to be deported.  To me, it doesn't sound that difficult like the way they seem to say.  It's all about 'votes' for them.  The Legal Hispanics.  I think it's just unbelieveable to me, that ppl can stay here & be illegal and nothing is being done. 

Quoting iluv2meow:

I dunno meow... Im on the fence about this... If we build a fence then they cant help themselves to go back home again...

Id rather stick with what AZ is doing. I think we should allow the illegals to either stay and make their own lives hell or just go home on their own. Saves money too.




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