USD: Mexican immigrants return home as US economy struggles

Thursday, 17 May 2012 17:18
Courtesy of

Through inhospitable terrain and trigger happy border guards, crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States is a perilous journey – but for many desperate for a new life, it was always thought to be worth the risk.

But times and more importantly economies have certainly changed.

“I used to have two or three jobs at a time, but now it’s very difficult, you can spend a month looking for a job,” says Gustavo, a Mexican immigrant.

Ten years ago Gustavo, like many other Mexicans, came to California illegally to earn money, provide for his family and enjoy a higher standard of living than at home.

But now he's joined the rapidly swelling ranks of those thinking its time to pack their bags and head back south.

"Because of the poverty levels in the US even people who before were middle class Mexicans, now they are falling into lower class - so they are saying I might better go home and be poor there at least with my family,” says Ron Gochez, teacher, community activist.

Whether wanted or not, in the past Mexico's provided the largest wave of immigration from a single country into the US - but now that figure, just like America's economy, has come to a grinding halt.

Crippling unemployment, a housing construction market lying idle, and a sharp rise in deportations are all combining to put people off seeking the good life in America.

During the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, a total of 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, down by more than half from the 3 million who had done so in the five-year period of 1995 to 2000.

Mexicans that come here to the US often take jobs as farmers and laborers. It is a widespread belief that Mexicans do the jobs that Americans refuse to. So this drastic fall in immigration raises the question - just who will fill in for them?

Ron Gochez, a teacher and a community organizer, believes this sharp downward trend can lead to more drastic consequences.

“If Mexicans leave, the crisis in the US can be deeper than it is now. Mexicans go to the grocery stores, buy food... They represent billions of dollars of consumer power that the US economy cannot afford to lose,” says Ron Gochez, a teacher and community activist.

Americans have complained for decades that they want less immigration from Mexico. But if chores start going undone, and prices start rising, they may soon start complaining, that they want more.

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