What’s Behind The Changing Face Of The Mexican Immigrant

The stereotypical face of the Mexican immigrant has been that of the male day laborer — but that’s increasingly less accurate.

By Laura RiceJuly 27, 2015 10:23 am| ,

The face of the typical Mexican immigrant is changing and the number of Mexicans coming to the US — legally and illegally — has dropped sharply. This changing profile is revealed in a new study published by the University of Texas San Antonio and the University of New Hampshire. Rogelio Saenz is dean of the College of Public Policy at UTSA and the study’s lead author.

On the declining numbers:

“We find that two periods — we’re looking at 2003 to 2007 and comparing that period to 2008 to 2012 and we find a significant drop — about 60 percent of what it was at an earlier point in time.”

On why the numbers are decreasing:

“I think there are factors on both sides of the border. In the US, what we find is, obviously, the economic recession really played a major role here in the reduction of Mexican immigration — particularly on industries that depend heavily on Mexican workers took a big hit — in particular the construction industry. You also have the detentions — we’ve seen an increase in detentions. We’ve seen the increase of deportations that have taken place. At the same time, you also have the violence that took place in Mexico.”

On the new profile of the typical Mexican Immigrant:

“That person, compared to earlier groups of immigrants from Mexico, tend to have higher levels of education, tend to have higher levels of income, they’re more likely to be fluent in English, they’re somewhat more likely to be naturalized citizens. And, even though men continue to predominate among Mexican immigrants, women are becoming much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population.”

On what this means for the US:

“These are big, major challenges for us because here in the US, we are an aging country and we have these baby boomers reaching retirement age and [we’re] in need of a workforce. So one of the shifts may be greater immigration, for example, from Central America — where you really have a bit higher fertility rates than in Mexican and, obviously, China plays a major role here… in terms of immigration to the United States. Historically, you’ve had, over the last couple of decades, you’ve had a significant migration of Chinese to the United States.”