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

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

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

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.

Excerpt

“Not only were undocumented migrants dispersing more
widely in the wake of the new enforcement regime, but they
were staying longer north of the border. A perverse
consequence of draconian border enforcement is that it does
not deter would-be migrants from trying to enter the country
so much as it discourages those who are already here from
returning home. The end result of a border buildup is typically
longer trip durations, lower probabilities of return migration,
and a shift toward permanent settlement.”
[Massey et al. 2002, pp. 128–129]

INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO
SENDING AND RECEIVING COUNTRIES

Since 1980, the worldwide number of international migrants has more than doubled, reaching 214 million in 2008 (United Nations 2008). Economic theory would support such a development, since the efficiency gains from exploiting the sizable international wage differences are estimated to be enormous (World Bank 2006b). Low- or middle-income countries often possess an abundant labor stock but insufficient capital to serve it. Hence, a labor export-led growth model, that is, exporting cheap domestic labor into other countries, may be a . . .

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