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January 19, 2014

CEPEDA: Debunking the stereotypes of immigration

Research into migration patterns to and from Mexico fly in the face of all that we think we “know” — or maybe just fear — about the relationship Mexicans have with the United States.

We tend to believe that Mexicans relocate here to take jobs and stay permanently. That those who have returned in the past few years have only done so because they were deported — and that such forceful encounters with U.S. law enforcement agencies have had the effect of creating a generation of anti-American Mexicans. And that Mexicans have little regard for our country’s laws and our culture of hewing to those statutes.

We’ve never been able to disprove these theories, until now.

In a study initiated in mid-2013, the binational organization Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) reveals that the picture is significantly different. And the relationship that migrating Mexicans have with the U.S. holds great opportunities for successful inter-country cooperation in our shared future.

In their findings — “The U.S. Mexico Cycle: The End of an Era” — MATT notes that as 1.4 million Mexicans returned to Mexico between 2005 and 2010 and migration from Mexico to the U.S. fell to net-zero, no one had a good explanation why this was happening.

MATT found that most immigrants from Mexico were part of a historical, circular migratory system and never intended to stay in the U.S. permanently. It was, in many cases, the tightening of the border and stepped-up policing of immigrant communities that caused the re-migration pattern to halt and for families to stay on this side of the border and put down roots.

Yet of those immigrants returning to Mexico, a full 89 percent chose to do so on their own. The top reasons for their return journeys didn’t revolve around fear but a desire to rejoin their families, nostalgia for their beloved Mexico Lindo, and the inability to find jobs in the U.S.

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