Mexican immigration to the U.S. since 1850 Mexican immigration to the U.S. since 1850. pew research center

Mexicans coming back for family, economics

1 million returned from U.S. to Mexico over five-year period

After historic high numbers of northward migration, more Mexicans appear to be returning home than arriving in the United States, spurred on by family values and declining economic expectations, says a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.


Between 2009 and 2014, the Mexican population in the U.S. declined by 140,000 as 1 million left their wealthy northern neighbor to go back to their country of origin, according to the Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID).

This reversal comes after what has been one of the greatest waves of migration in recent history, with an estimated 16 million Mexicans moving to the U.S. in the past half century.

Between 1995 and 2000 alone, 2.27 million Mexicans migrated to the U.S., spurred on by the promise of a better life.

One clue to the recent change in the trend is in current perceptions: today one-third of Mexicans believe their standard of living would be no higher north of the border, compared to less than one-quarter who thought so in 2007. And less than half (48%) believe life would be better in the U.S.

The Mexican population there peaked in 2007 at 12.8 million, falling to 11.7 million last year as new arrivals dropped sharply.

The ENADID survey also indicated that family ties had played a large part in the rising numbers of Mexicans moving back south of the border: six in 10 of those who said they had lived in the U.S. five years ago but were back in Mexico as of last year cited reunification with loved ones as the main reason. Just 14% said they had been deported.


However, the American Dream still appears to hold some sway over the Mexican imagination, as 35% of respondents in Mexico said they would move to the U.S. if they had a chance, and one-fifth of adults said they would do so illegally, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

This remains largely unchanged from figures in 2009, which found that one-third of adults would move, 18% of them without authorization.

The fall in net migration from Mexico to the U.S. is also reflected in the dwindling number of Mexicans who say people with whom they are close are living north of the border. Forty-two per cent of respondents in 2007 said they regularly kept in touch with friends or family north of the border, but today the figure is 35%.

The Pew Research report acknowledges that measuring migration between the two countries difficult because there are no official counts of Mexican immigrants who enter and leave the U.S. each year. So it used a national household survey and two national censuses in Mexico and migration estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau to come up with the figures.

Mexico News Daily

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  • Does Pew have an agenda in publishing this?

    • Sorensen

      No. Pew was recording an inconvenient fact for some politicians who try to put the blame on every problem this country has.

    • Güerito

      I’d like to know how they’re measuring the amount of Mexicans entering the US. The ones entering illegally do their best to avoid being detected as they cross the border and as they live in the US. The entering number must be guess.

      In contrast a Mexican returning to Mexico has every incentive to enter through normal channels and let his home country know he’s returned. This number should be pretty exact. And Pew compares the two over six years and concludes more left the US. ??

  • James Smith

    Proof what most Americans have always thought about Latino migrants. Unllke other large waves of immigrants in past years from Europe and Asia mostly, Latinos do not emigrate to the US to assimilate and become Americans. If they did, no matter the tough times, they would be proud to be in America and to be Americans. These cowards and “sunshine patriots” however cut and run the first day they lose a job. So be it. Good riddance.

    • Beau

      James Smith, if that is your real name. Mexicans living in the USA are coming out of Ether. There is no way to assimilate to a new society when you are constantly facing discrimination and working two jobs to reach a mediocre standard of living. The good news is that people like you can now find a job cutting grass, washing dishes, parking cars at expensive restaurants, picking citrus in Florida and tomatoes in the Valley.

    • Henry Golas

      They are Americans. Mexico is part of America as is the US and Canada.

      • Güerito

        Henry, do you know any Mexicans who call themselves “Americanos”? I mean in normal conversation, not trying to make a political point?

  • Hailey Mannering

    Pew didn´t mention that many people from US have moved to Mexico in recent years. By the way, Mexico is part of America. If you don´t know that, don´t expect to be taken seriously.

  • Pew has run similar slanted studies for years all in an attempt to somehow defuse the claims that illegals should be deported.

    Show me any report where people are returning south of the border in anywhere similar to those coming north.

    Just one!

    • Güerito

      Pew’s study goes through 2014. In response to various reports showing Mexican migration to the US in 2015 is way up, Pew admitted the data shows a recent surge of new Mexican immigrants in 2015, not reflected in their study mentioned in the article above.

      It’s about a net increase of 250,000 so far in 2015, which completely wipes out the supposed “net loss” of 140,000 from 2009-2014.

      Pew: “To go into more detail, our analysis with more recent CPS data through September 2015, shows that the “net inflow” of Mexican immigrants over the previous year was about 250,000.”

  • Hailey Mannering

    I don´t think anyone disputes that many of the Mexicans living in US would prefer to live in Mexico, if it were economically feasible. Since most US people don´t want “illegals”, then the US government and businesses should stop doing things that harm Mexico´s economy. IE: dumping agricultural goods in Mexico below cost; telling people that a-l-l of Mexico is too dangerous to visit; continuing to outlaw marijuana in most states.

  • Hailey Mannering

    Spanish speakers, when talking amongst themselves generally refer to people from US as “estadosunidenses”,
    not “americanos”.

    • Güerito

      It’s really only the press, media or academics who use “Estadounidenses.”

      Mexicans refer to US citizens as either Americanos or Norteamericanos. These are polite and not insulting.

      Gringos (general usage) or Gabachos (usually working class speaker – most likely spent time in the US)
      are used a lot, but all Mexicans know these are slang, offensive to some.

      These are all very common to hear. Estadounidenses is almost never heard in conversations.

      • Hailey Mannering

        Guerito, I´m in Yucatan. May I ask where you are?

        • Güerito

          In a colonial city in central Mexico.

          • Hailey Mannering

            I ask because I wonder if perhaps there´s a regional difference in the use of “estadosunidos”. Perhaps I don´t hear “americano” much is because I´m white but not from USA.

  • Güerito

    It’s now being reported by Mexican government sources. Decrease in Mexicans heading to US reversed by large increase in 2015. Click image to see details: