Border enforcement shifts Mexican immigration pattern

United States of America and Mexico waving flagIncreased enforcement on the border of the United States and Mexico has seen a reduction in both legal and illegal Mexican immigrants; however, new research suggests that an increase in enforcement also has the effect of altering traditional patterns of settlement and results in Mexican immigrants settling in states away from the border.

Mexicans are now beginning to settle in areas of the United States that they have not historically lived before in large numbers and there has been a substantial decline in the amount of Mexican immigrants settling in more traditional parts of the country such as Texas and California, according to Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts economic professor Todd Pugatch. Research conducted by Pugatch and the Public Policy Institute of California’s Sarah Bohn indicate that for every 1,000 extra border patrol agents sent to prevent undocumented immigrants entering a state, that state’s number of Mexican immigrants fell by around 22% between 1994 and 2011.

Pugatch studies the impact on US labor markets of Mexican immigration and the economic effects of immigration from individuals from developing nations in a bid to develop more understanding of the motivations of such immigrants.

“The decision to migrate to another country is one of the biggest decisions a person can make,” Pugatch acknowledges. “They are leaving behind their family and friends in search of a new life.  Often the decisions have to do with economic opportunities, but that is not the whole story.”

States such as Florida, Georgia and New York have been drawing larger numbers of immigrants as the more traditional destinations lose their share.