Surge of Mexico Migration into US Is Over: UC San Diego Study

Ending NAFTA may actually retrigger a major migration from Mexico into the United States, UC San Diego researcher said

The surge of undocumented immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico is over, according to new research from the University of California San Diego.

The study, released Thursday, offers a different look at future migration patterns by linking birth rates to labor supply and demand.

“There are not millions more waiting behind the Mexican-Americans who are here, waiting to come,” said one of the authors Craig McIntosh, Professor of Economics in the School of Global Policy and Strategy. “That migration has in many ways stabilized.”

McIntosh spoke to NBC 7 about the study and what it means for policies in the U.S. and the European Union.

When the birth rate in the U.S. dropped in the 1960s, the number of young people entering the workforce also dropped 20 years later. Because the birth rate in Mexico was more than double of what it was in the U.S., there were far more workers looking for jobs in the late 1980s, researchers said.

In recent years, Mexico's birth rates have dropped to levels comparable to those in the U.S., according to the study.

However, populations in Africa are expected to rise. As a result, researchers believe the migration from Northern Africa into Europe is going to be the new so-called “hot spot.”

The study estimates African-born first-generation migrants living outside of the continent will grow from 4.6 million to 13.4 million through 2050.

McIntosh believes one of the only things that may retrigger a major migration from Mexico into the United States would be an effort to end NAFTA and decrease the integration of U.S. companies with Mexico manufacturing plants.

“Economic collapse in Mexico is something that will certainly have demographic consequences for the United States,” he said.

The researchers say they hope their predictions will help policy makers prepare for the future rather than react to factors that were in place 20 years ago.

The paper, “Is the Mediterranean the new Rio Grande? US and EU Immigration Pressures in the Long Run”, appears in the Fall 2016 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

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