More Mexicans are leaving the US than coming across the border

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By David Cook Martín
The Conversation

During the most recent Republican debate, Donald Trump declared “people are pouring across the southern border.”

Trump is right that the United States has been a major immigrant destination since the 1960s, but if he is referring to Mexican flows today, he is wrong.

According to sociologists Frank Bean and Gillian Stevens, Mexican migration to the United States is “the largest sustained flow of migrant workers in the contemporary world,” and Mexico is the single largest contributor of migrants to the United States since 1965.

But here’s what Trump ignores: a recent Pew Report shows that more Mexicans are leaving than coming to the United States – reversing a decades-long trend.

The main reason for the trend is family reunification, but this migration back to Mexico is not driven by nostalgia for kin. The reasons behind it are much more complex.

Hard realities

 

Walking across the US-Mexican border. Mike Blake/REUTERS

 

Mexican families have to grapple with hard economic and legal realities, and they often conclude that returning to Mexico is their best option.

The Pew Report looks at the years between 2009 and 2014. It combines Mexican survey data on the entry of Mexicans and their families – including American children – with US census data on Mexican entries to the United States. The report is designed to overcome the limitations of national statistics that typically ignore departures.

The study shows a net loss of 140,000 Mexican immigrants from the United States. One million Mexican migrants and their children left the US for Mexico, while just over 860,000 left Mexico for the United States.

While this may seem like a desirable outcome from an immigration control perspective, it may signal problems in the US economy. Among other things, it means that the children of Mexican returnees – kids who are US citizens – are leaving the country. US losses may be Mexico’s gain in a world market that rewards multilingual workers.

So what is driving this “return” migration to Mexico?

Going home again

Respondents to one of the surveys behind the Pew Report were able to check off a box that says “reunite with the family” in response to a question about “the reason for [NAME]’s return.”

Six in 10 surveyed Mexicans who lived in the United States in 2009 but in Mexico by 2014 said they were moving back to reunite with family or to start a family. But this doesn’t tell us anything about what reuniting with one’s family involves.

Research by Wayne Cornelius and colleagues concurs with the Pew Report that family reunification is an important reason for return, but also suggests that Mexicans living in the US are more likely to stay when they have good jobs.

The evidence for this claim is an upward trend in remittances from the US to Mexico between 2014 and 2015. Cornelius and his colleagues show that economic factors matter a great deal, even if they are not the only ones that matter in making migration decisions.

After all, the pull of the family has been a historical constant. Most migrants, domestic or international, pine for their relatives back home. Blues, Yiddish tango and the letters of Polish and Italian immigrants to relatives left behind are cultural expressions of this truism.

Yet missing home has not consistently driven return migration flows in the past, in the ways we’re seeing now with Mexicans. What’s driving it is changing economic, political and demographic conditions.

While “family reunification” may sound like a decidedly noneconomic rationale for return migration, it is not. Sociologists and economists have long made the case that people migrate primarily in search of economic opportunities and to diversify risks and sources of income from a familial – rather than a solely individual – standpoint.

From this perspective, it is not surprising that the lagged effects of the 2009 recession enter the decision-making progress of both individuals and families deciding whether to migrate.

Here, there and in-between

Here in the United States, we tend to focus on factors that pull immigrants into the country – like jobs and higher wages. We also look at deterrents like restrictive policies. While these are critical factors in families’ decisions about migration, the return of Mexicans may be attributable more to failures in US family reunification policy than in any intentional deterrent policy.

Currently, Mexican family preference visas are being issued with a two-decade delay. Imagine a Mexican family that planned to move to the US as a hedge against risks in the labor market and to gain access to credit markets back during the Clinton administration. A decades-long delay in getting a visa, coupled with a major recession in the US and economic improvements in Mexico, may lead to a reconsideration of these plans.

Mexico’s economy has improved dramatically in the last decade. This improvement has translated into new job opportunities within the country. Fertility rates have decreased, and the population has aged. That means there are fewer people in the age cohort most likely to migrate – those age 18 to 35. Smaller families are a trend that will not change quickly.

In addition, border enforcement and dynamics between the United States and Mexico have created dangerous crossing conditions – and a lucrative market for smugglers – that makes it more difficult for family members to come and go, and visit each other.

What does this mean for US immigration policy moving forward?

Policy implications

If we want to create policies based on empirical economic and demographic realities, our leaders need to question prescriptions based on outdated data. Despite popular sound bites from the campaign trail, Mexican immigrants are not “pouring” over the border.

Responsible policy-making must reflect new realities. Otherwise, we will spend billions to build walls and deploy surveillance technologies to keep out people who are not coming – not to mention that these strategies have rarely worked.

Our tax dollars would be better spent integrating immigrants who are already here, managing refugees, filling shortages of less skilled workers and competing for talent on a global stage.

The Conversation

David Cook Martín is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for International Studies at Grinnell College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Swinomish Becomes First tribe in the Lower 48 to Use Dental Therapists to Address Oral Health Crisis in Indian Country

DHAT provider Daniel Kennedy with his first patient Issac Cladoosby.

DHAT provider Daniel Kennedy with his first patient Issac Cladoosby.

Published January 5, 2016

SWINOMISH, WASHINGTON – Leading the effort to address the oral health crisis in Indian Country, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community on Monday became the first tribe in the Lower 48 states to employ a dental therapist to provide basic oral health services.

“There are too few dentists in Indian Country,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. “We cannot stand by any longer and allow Native people to continue to suffer tooth decay at a rate three times the national average. We have developed a tribal approach to solve a tribal issue. This solution will help our people immediately address their oral health needs in ways that have not been possible until today.”

The Swinomish Tribal Community had a dental caseload of 3,000 patients last year. Having a dental therapist on staff will allow for faster and quicker service for patients, who will not have to wait to be treated by a dentist.

Although dental therapists – known as dental health aide therapists (DHATs) in the Alaska Native program – are banned from providing many basic dental services in Washington and most other states, the Swinomish Tribe has licensed and employed a dental therapist on the Tribe’s reservation as an exercise of their inherent tribal sovereignty. With too many Swinomish Tribal members – particularly children – suffering unnecessarily and potentially facing life-threatening conditions because they lack access to dental care, dental therapist Daniel Kennedy joined the Swinomish Dental Clinic team to help ensure that all Tribal members have access to reliable, high-quality and culturally competent dental care.

Future DHAT Provider Aiyana Guzman with the Swinomish Senators: Kevin Paul, Brian Wilbur, Leon John, Brian Porter, Barb James, Sophie Bailey, Brian Cladoosby.

Future DHAT Provider Aiyana Guzman with the Swinomish Senators: Kevin Paul, Brian Wilbur, Leon John, Brian Porter, Barb James, Sophie Bailey, Brian Cladoosby.

Similar to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, dental therapists are highly trained mid-level dental providers who expand the capacity of dentists by delivering a number of routine and preventive dental services, including fillings and simple extractions.

The post Swinomish Becomes First tribe in the Lower 48 to Use Dental Therapists to Address Oral Health Crisis in Indian Country appeared first on Native News Online.

Tearful Obama, Announcing Gun Control Steps, Condemns Shootings – The New York Times

As tears streamed down his face, President Obama on Tuesday condemned the repeated spasms of gun violence across America as he announced new executive actions intended to reduce the number of mass shootings, suicides and killings that have become routine in the nation’s communities.Speaking in the East Room of the White House surrounded by gun control activists and the families of gun victims, Mr. Obama broke down as he spoke about the young children shot to death in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.“First graders,” he said, his eyes drifting to a distant place and becoming red with tears. The president wiped his eye and paused to regain his composure. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he said.

Source: Tearful Obama, Announcing Gun Control Steps, Condemns Shootings – The New York Times

Map shows hotspots for bat-human virus transmission risk

Liam Brierley added: “We’re pleased to have collated ecology, epidemiology and public health information to identify the factors that drive virus sharing and we hope it is used to improve surveillance of emerging diseases and inform decisions about preventative action. There’s still some way to go in monitoring virus diversity in wild animals and specific information on infections that would allow us to create higher-resolution maps. With advances in technology, we anticipate the way we collect and share data to improve, potentially stopping future pandemics.”

Source: Map shows hotspots for bat-human virus transmission risk

Avian Flu Diary: Brazil: MOH Update On Microcephalic Births

The current theory is that maternal infection during the 1st and 2nd trimester with the recently arrived mosquito-borne Zika virus is behind this sudden surge in birth defects, but hard evidence is still lacking and a conclusive link may take months to establish.

Source: Avian Flu Diary: Brazil: MOH Update On Microcephalic Births