December 7, 2005: Family, Better Jobs Pull Mexicans To U.S. (By Haya El Nassar in The U.S.A. Today) (A Pew Hispanic Study Finds That 95% of Mexicans Who Came To The U.S. Were Not Starving, But Already Had Jobs In Mexico.)
Family, better jobs pull Mexicans to USA
By Haya El Nasser
The USA Today, December 7, 2005
Most of the estimated 6.3 million Mexicans who are in the USA illegally came because of family connections and better job opportunities here,not because they were unemployed or destitute in their homeland, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The survey of 4,836 Mexicans by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that only 5% of respondents who have been here two years or less were jobless in Mexico. The center is a non-profit research group in Washington.
The results indicate that improving social and economic conditions in
Mexico may not necessarily slow the influx of illegal immigrants.
'Our perception of the unauthorized workforce is that these are people
who are desperate, (who) would do something illegal,' says Rakesh
Kochhar, author of the report. 'That is not the case. Unemployment is
not a motivation. The typical motivation is opportunity and long-term
The survey was conducted in Spanish at Mexican consulates in seven U.S. cities over seven months ending in January. Those surveyed were applying for identity cards, and most are believed to have been here illegally, Kochhar says.
The debate over unauthorized workers is heating up across the country.
There have been protests in Virginia over proposals for publicly
financed gathering places for day laborers, many in this country
illegally. The Minuteman Project has attracted volunteers who patrol the U.S.-Mexican border. Debate is continuing in Congress about whether to build a 2,000-mile steel-and-wire fence along the border.
Other highlights of the survey:
* Recent immigrants are better educated than those who have been here
longer, reflecting higher educational levels in Mexico.
* Undocumented Mexican immigrants have little problem getting work. The unemployment rate among those surveyed is about 15% in the first six months they're in the USA but drops to about 5% after that. However, work is not always stable and tends to be low-paying, Kochhar says.
* Newcomers are less likely to work in farming than those who came in
previous decades, he says. More work in hospitality, construction and
* Because they go where the jobs are, more Mexicans are flocking to New York to work in hotels and restaurants and to Atlanta, Dallas and
Raleigh, where construction is booming.
* Family networks are key to jobs. More than 80% of respondents said
they have a relative other than a spouse or child in the USA.
Many undocumented Mexican immigrants view the U.S. labor market as an
extension of Mexico's, Kochhar says.
'Coming to America is becoming a national aspiration rather than simply reflecting abject economic conditions,' says Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors stricter enforcement at the border and work sites.
'The image that people are coming because if they don't come they starve is simply wrong,' he says. 'Unless we move to stop it, millions of people are coming.'
Tamar Jacoby, an expert on immigrants at the Manhattan Institute, a
conservative-leaning think tank, says Mexicans come because they're
needed to do the jobs Americans don't want to do anymore.
The high school dropout rate for American men has dropped so much that
fewer of them are willing to do unskilled labor, she says. 'We need
these workers,' Jacoby says.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Pew Hispanic Center's survey is available on line at: