Mexican Labor Migrants and U.S. Immigration Policies: From Sojourner to Emigrant?

Synopsis

Kaufmann studies the migration behavior of Mexican labor migrants to the U.S. He develops the concept of migration intensity, defined as the degree to which a migrant shifts his attachment, association and engagement from the place of origin to the migration destination. Migration intensity is as important as the original decision to migrate. For example, stricter border enforcement deters immigration but also has an unintended intensification effect whereby stricter border controls lead migrants to make fewer return trips, prolong total U.S. time, reduce remittances and move dependents to the U.S. By increasing migration intensity, stricter U.S. border enforcement has led to a net increase in the volume of undocumented Mexican migration. Policy makers should focus on regularized circular migration programs and improving the Mexican economy.