For the first time in more than four decades, more Mexican immigrants are returning to their home country than coming to the United States, according to a report released Thursday.
From 2009 to 2014, an estimated 870,000 Mexicans came to the United States while 1 million returned home, a net loss for the United States of 130,000, according to the report from the Pew Research Center. That historic shift comes at a time when immigration has become a contentious focal point in the 2016 presidential race, as Republicans and Democrats argue over how best to modernize the nation’s immigration system.
Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the center, said the net decline in Mexicans was driven by the Great Recession in the United States that made it harder to find jobs, an improving economy in Mexico and tighter border security.
In coming years, he said, the number of Mexicans may increase again if the U.S. economy continues to improve. But steady growth of Mexico’s economy and tighter controls along the southwest border mean the United States won’t see another massive wave of legal and illegal immigration like it did in recent decades, when the number of Mexican-born immigrants ballooned from 3 million to nearly 13 million, he said.