Immigration From Mexico

By Steven A. Camarota July 2001

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About the Author

Steven A. Camarota is Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from the University of Virginia. Dr. Camarota has testified before Congress and has published widely on the political and economic effects of immigration on the United States. His articles on the impact of immigration have appeared in both academic publications and the popular press including Social Science Quarterly, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Campaigns and Elections, and National Review. His most recent works published by the Center for Immigration Studies are: Without Coverage: Immigration’s Impact on the Size and Growth of the Population Lacking Health Insurance, Reconsidering Immigrant Entrepreneurship: An Examination of Self-Employment Among Natives and the Foreign-born, and Importing Poverty: Immigration’s Impact on the Size and Growth of the Poor Population in the United States.



Table of Contents

Executive Summary

     Findings

     Data Sources

     Policy Recommendations

          Improving the Situation for Legal Mexican Immigrants

          Reducing Future Unskilled Legal Mexican Immigration

          Reducing Future Illegal Mexican Immigration

          Guestworker Programs Do Not Solve the Problem

     Conclusion

Introduction

Data Sources

Numbers and Geographic Distribution

     A Rapidly Growing Population

     Lower Fertility in Mexico Is Not Leading to a Reduction in Immigration

     Mexican Immigration Is a Recent Phenomenon

     Mexicans Are a Growing Share of the Foreign-Born

     A Highly Concentrated Population

Labor Market Characteristics of Mexican Immigrants in the United States

     Educational Attainment of Mexican Immigrants

     Mexican Immigration Has Dramatically Increased the Number of Dropouts

     Distribution of Mexican Immigrants Across Occupations

     Illegal Aliens from Mexico

     Distribution of Legal and Illegal Immigrants Across Occupations

     Distribution of Mexican Immigrants Across Industries

     Distribution of Legal and Illegal immigrants Across Industries

Impact of Mexican Immigration on Wages and Prices in the United States

     Most Natives Do Not Face Job Competition from Mexican Immigrants

     Unskilled Natives and Mexican Immigrants Hold Similar Jobs

     Previous Research Found That Immigration Harms Unskilled Natives

     Impact of Mexican Immigration on Prices

     Mexican Immigrants Account for a Small Share of Economic Output

Impact on Native-Born Workers

     Workers Harmed Are the Poorest and Most Vulnerable

     Wages for the Unskilled Declined in the 1990s

Poverty and Income

     Mexican Immigrants Have Very High Poverty Rates

     Near Poverty Also Common Among Mexican Immigrants

     Poverty and Near Poverty Over Time

     Poverty Among Legal and Illegal Mexican Immigrants

     Mexican Immigrants Have Much Lower Average Incomes Than Natives

     Income Among Legal and Illegal Mexican Immigrants

Use of Means-Tested Programs

     Mexican Use of Means-Tested Programs Remains High Even After Welfare Reform

     Mexican Use of Means-Tested Programs Over Time

     Use of Means-Tested Programs by Working Mexicans

     Use of Means-Tested Programs by Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Health Insurance Coverage

     Lack of Health Insurance Common Among Mexican Immigrants

     Lack of Health Insurance Remains a Problem Even for Long-Time Mexican Immigrants

     Insurance Coverage Among Legal and Illegal Mexican Immigrants

Socio-Economic Status by Educational Attainment

School-Age Population

     Impact on School-Age Population by State

Characteristics of Mexican Immigrants by State

     Poverty/Near Poverty by State

     Welfare Use and Insurance Coverage by State

Impact of Mexican Immigration on Public Coffers

2nd- and 3rd-Generation

Mexican-Americans

     Native-Born Mexican-Americans Lag Far Behind Other Natives

Conclusion and Policy Recommendations

     Improving the Situation for Legal Mexican Immigrants

     Reducing Future Unskilled Legal Mexican Immigration

     Reducing Future Illegal Mexican Immigration

     Guestworker Programs Do Not Solve the Problem

     Arguments in Favor of Mexican Immigration

     Final Thoughts