March 3, 2009


Reverse Migration Rocks Mexico: With the U.S. economy contracting rapidly, Mexican migrants are heading back south. But they're finding the homecoming isn't quite what they imagined. (Malcolm Beith, February 2009, Foreign Policy)

Every Saturday for nearly four years, Elena Trujillo has gone to the local department store in Morelia, Michoacán, to pick up money wired home by her 34-year-old son, Ángel. This 59-year-old mother of three is one of between 16 and 35 million Mexicans who depend on remittances from relatives in the United States to boost their incomes. But in late September -- for Trujillo and for countless others -- the wire transfers stopped coming. Confused at first, Trujillo was reassured by Ángel on the phone: Everything is OK; I have a surprise for you. The next week, Trujillo received another transfer, this one much larger than normal. She was ecstatic. Ángel's construction work must finally be paying dividends, she thought. Then, just a few days later, Ángel came back to Michoacán. "I couldn't believe it. He had given up and come home," Trujillo said. "He had given up on the American Dream."

Ángel Trujillo is just one of as many as 3 million Mexicans who some experts and officials predict will return home from the United States in the coming months. The economic crisis in the United States is already hitting migrant workers, many of whom work in tanking industries such as construction and manufacturing. Unemployment among Mexican immigrants was 9.7 percent in January, up from 4.5 percent in March of last year, and higher than the 7.6 percent for the United States overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not surprisingly, remittances from the United States are also falling for the first time in the 13 years that officials have kept figures on record. In 2008, transfers dropped $1 billion compared with year before, and economists say that the effects of the recession are only beginning to be felt. the nativists inflict so much damage on Mexico the immigrants, and millions more, will be forced to flee back here in such numbers there'll be no chance of stopping them. It's a delightfully paradoxical effect, just too bad they'll have done so much damage to two economies. But Conservative Derangement Syndrome is no less damaging than BDS, maybe more so.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2009 12:13 PM
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