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Published:February 17th, 2009 12:06 EST
U.S. and  Mexican Immigration Problems

U.S. and Mexican Immigration Problems

By Noopur Shrivastav

The rehabilitation process in New Orleans, and the active participation of the Mexicans in this endeavor, has raised the eyebrows of native born Americans. We worry that they will snatch our land... that they will own our property and will be a burden on public services.

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the sweep by her sister, Rita, left the residents of New Orleans and adjoining areas demolished. Like illegal immigrants, they did not carry proper identity proofs and their valued papers. What was on the ground was flung apart in the ferocious waves and winds. This came as an opportunity to the illegal immigrants to fake themselves as the legal, documented immigrants to this country.

In March 2004, there were an estimated 10 million undocumented residents in United States. Out of this total, Mexicans counted 5.9 million or 57 percent of the total, and about 80 to 85% of Mexican immigrants in recent years were undocumented.

But this number of illegal immigrants from Mexico has not swelled all of a sudden. It has been more than a decade that their continual inflow has been swelling the population in the southern states of US. According to a report of the Pew Hispanic center, Since the mid-1990s, the most rapid growth in the number of undocumented migrants has been in states that previously had relatively small foreign-born populations. As a result, Arizona and North Carolina are now among the states with the largest numbers of undocumented migrants ".

A survey conducted by Roberto Suro, Director of Pew Hispanic Center, revealed that "about four of every ten adults in the Mexican population say they would migrate to the United States if they had the means and opportunity, and that two of every ten are inclined to live and work here without legal authorization. The willingness to migrate, even illegally, is evident in all sectors of Mexican society-- including the middle class and the well-educated, as well as those who are poor and who only completed low-levels of schooling. "

What makes the Mexican take these illegal steps?

Why do young Mexicans leave their motherland and migrate to this country? To get the answer of this question we will have to look into the history of Mexican society. According to the Library of Congress Country Studies, Approximately 10 percent of all Mexicans can be characterized as belonging to the upper and upper-middle-income sectors "they  accounted for 33 percent of all income in 1984 and 38 percent in 1992. The middle sector comprises approximately 30 percent of the nation " their share of overall income declined from 39 percent in 1984 to 36 percent in 1992. The bottom 60 percent of the population saw its share of total income fall from 29 percent in 1984 to 26 percent in 1992. "

This inequitable distribution of income in Mexican society rendered much less opportunity at the hands of the impoverished lot of 60%. Moreover, the country failed to create adequate job opportunities. Adding to their woes was the indifferent attitude of the wealthy politicians, business groups and labour unions. Right from the early 20th century, real wages in Mexico were regulated by the interplay of these three components. During the 1940s and 1950s, they forged an understanding according to which Central Bank and Treasury Ministry technocrats were to control macroeconomic policies, business groups were to refrain from open political opposition while gaining political access through officially recognized private-sector associations, and labor leaders were to restrict real wage demands in exchange for additional patronage for distribution to workers. And the hold of these three was so important that the real wages in Mexico remained low until the mid of 1990s.

There was paucity of jobs in their land, 60% of its population has expanded to the age group of 15 to 64 years. They badly needed jobs and the natural hazards also added to their woes. The tsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and earthquakes in the center and south, and hurricanes on the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coasts always disturbed their country. Hence, as soon as the border opened up with less restrictive terms of migration in 1990s, the youths flung to this country, the United States, to make their living.

After all, they had nothing in their homeland that could have bound them to their roots, the unemployment rates were increasing and-- as the trend suggests-- they had to earn from services only. About 70% of population in Mexico depends on services for its livelihood, and the same service-- no matter legitimate or illegitimate-- was going to reward them much more when their hard earned dollar was converted into Mexican currency Peso.

Gradually, they became an integral part of the more than 5 million unauthorized workers in the U.S. economy. And they even exercise a strong hold in the sectors where they are employed. More than a million undocumented persons are employed in manufacturing, and a similar number in the service industries. More than 600,000 work in construction and more than 700,000 in restaurants.

Today, it is definitely very difficult to deal with them, owing to their strong presence in the service sector, but we have to check the increasing burden on our public services. We have to check the illegal migration, the government will have to firm up its step not only here in United States, they will have to guard the borders along the southern states. And, obviously, the Mexican government will have to look for the opportunities to create jobs in their land that could bind its people to its land, and encourage them to not cross the border into America to find employment opportunities.

-Noopur Shrivastav


1. Reports of the Pew Hispanic center published on the website

2. Reports of the Library of Congress country studies.