ILR Immigration Expertise

Cook and Martinez-Matsuda share insights on Pew report
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Listening to the national political debate, one might assume that most immigrants to the United States come from Mexico. They don’t.

Maria Lorena Cook, ILR School professor of international and comparative labor, points out that in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center, more Mexicans have left the U.S. to return to Mexico than have come to the U.S. More immigrants now come from China and India.

The issue received attention this month when The Wall Street Journal published an analysis of U.S. Census figures from 2014.

The decline is the result of several factors, Cook said, including the slow economic recovery after the U.S. recession; improved economic conditions in parts of Mexico; and heightened enforcement at the border and throughout the U.S. that results in deportation, which has reached record levels under President Obama’s administration.

Veronica Martinez-Matsuda, ILR assistant professor of labor relations, law and history, said, “It’s a good example of how changes in the economy, combined with structural shifts in the type of work available, impact migration patterns.”

But, the lag in the discourse catching up to the facts is problematic, she said.

“What should concern people is the way that mainstream media and popular discourse continues to focus on Mexican migration as evidence of the ‘unregulated’ nature of immigration and the ‘invasion’ that continues,” Martinez-Matsuda said. “In my eyes, this has equally damaging social and cultural implications as it does political.”