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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Memo From Mexico: Mexico's Surprising Admission-Emigration Not Necessary

On January 9th, 2006, at a press conference in Los Pinos (the Mexican White House), Fox administration spokesman Ruben Aguilar was asked about emigration.

Here is part of what he said:

"“In some cases it [emigration] has to do with real problems of poverty, and in others it answers to other types of personal interest. Statistics reveal that a very, very high number of the persons who emigrate to the United Status had had work in Mexico.They don’t emigrate to get a job, but they emigrate for another series of conditions also of a cultural character, because they hope for a for a better condition of life despite the fact that they had work here.

They aren’t going because they don’t have work in Mexico." (En algunos casos tiene que ver con problemas reales de pobreza, y en otros responde a otro tipo de intereses de las personas. Las estadísticas revelan que un número muy, muy alto, de las personas que emigran a los Estados Unidos tenían trabajo en México, no emigran por no tener trabajo, sino emigran por otra serie de condiciones también de carácter cultural, porque esperan una mejor condición de vida a pesar de que aquí tenían trabajo, no se están yendo porque no tengan trabajo en México.)"

(Press conference transcript)

This fits in with a recent report released by the Pew Hispanic Center entitled Unemployment Plays Small Role in Spurring Mexican Migration to the U.S.

The material for this study was based on surveys of Mexican immigrants applying for matricular consular cards in the U.S., which means nearly all of them were illegal aliens.

This polling was conducted in 7 U.S. cities (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago,Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh, and Fresno from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Pew's press release begins:

"The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report released today. The report suggests that failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.”

It also stated that "Unemployment plays a minimal role in motivating workers from Mexico to migrate to the U.S. Only 5% of the survey respondents who have been in the U.S. for two years or less were unemployed while still in Mexico."
Another interesting tidbit:

“The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors (though their education levels remain lowby U.S. standards)."

“The latest arrivals are less likely to be farm workers and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales."

Read it all.

Preview of Coming Events: Mexico Leftist to Push U.S. on Immigration Reform.

The leftist candidate in Mexico's presidential election vowed on Tuesday to put immigration reform at the top of his agenda with Washington after a day of huge street protests by immigrants across the United States.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the demonstrations which drew hundreds of thousands of mainly Hispanic immigrants onto the streets of American cities on Monday showed the failures of past policies by U.S. and Mexican governments.

Only a deal legalizing the status of those workers already in the United States and economic policies that create more jobs in Mexico will stop hundreds of thousands of people from crossing the border illegally every year, Lopez Obrador said.

He promised it would be his No. 1 issue in dealing with Washington if he is elected on July 2.

"Migration flows can not be stopped. Even if they build walls, even if there are raids, even if there are more severe laws, it can't be resolved like that," Lopez Obrador said on his morning television show.

"We have to convince the U.S. government that there has to be cooperation for development and that we have to guarantee economic growth and employment in our country."

The showdown on reform is being closely watched in Mexico and could become a major issue in the election campaign.

With two months to go, Lopez Obrador is in a tight race with conservative candidate Felipe Calderon of the ruling National Action Party.

Lopez Obrador became Mexico's most popular politician when he served as mayor of Mexico City and held a big lead in opinion polls for three years, but he has slumped in the past month after a series of mistakes that included refusing to join a televised debate with the other candidates .

A new poll in the Milenio newspaper on Tuesday showed Calderon taking the lead with 36 percent support, three points ahead of his left-wing rival. Another poll last week also showed Calderon ahead.

Lopez Obrador is promising to end two decades of U.S.-backed free market reforms in Mexico and create jobs by spending heavily on infrastructure projects.

Critics say he could wreck Mexico's hard-won financial stability and upset its close ties with Washington but Lopez Obrador insists he would keep more Mexicans at home by boosting economic growth.

"Mexico is the main exporter of workers in the world. That is an embarrassment," Lopez Obrador said, adding the country needs U.S. support in developing its economy.

If elected, he also said Mexico's 45 consulates in the United States would be more active in defending Mexicans "against mistreatment, discrimination and the violation of their human rights."

Mexican President Vicente Fox has also made U.S. immigration reform his main foreign policy goal. Analysts say any deal in the U.S. Congress that helps immigrants would be a major victory for Fox and boost Calderon's chances.


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