Obama Economy Driving Mexicans Back to Mexico

Three years ago Mark Horne wrote a post on how the bad economy was making more immigrants leave than stay. At the time (believe it or not) Barack Obama claimed,

So we’ve put more Border Patrol on than any time in history and the flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years.

But Mark pointed out that the reason for the decline was the Obama economy was so bad. Immigrants were moving back South because they couldn’t find work.

I had assumed that the situation had changed since 2o12, but then I saw the Pew Research headline: “More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico,according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.

So it looks like the decline continued at least through 2014.

The decline in the flow of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. is due to several reasons (Passel et al, 2012). The slow recovery of the U.S. economy after the Great Recession may have made the U.S. less attractive to potential Mexican migrants and may have pushed out some Mexican immigrants as the U.S. job market deteriorated.

The other reasons suggested do not seem that powerful. For instance, they suggest increased enforcement as a factor, but then admit that most of the returns to Mexico were voluntary.

If the number of illegal immigrants is decreasing that is not necessarily good news. If a million who were working have returned due to lack of jobs, then what motivated the other 870,00 to cross the border to come here?