New Study Examines Young de Facto Deported U.S. Citizens in Mexico

By David North on January 4, 2023

Here’s a common but rarely discussed occurrence: The father of a family, who was born in Mexico, is picked up for illegal presence here and deported, or perhaps that happens to the mother, or perhaps to both of them; then some or all of the parents’ U.S.-born children, particularly the younger ones, go to Mexico with their parents, and hence can be said to be de facto deportees.

These children represent an interesting population with some disadvantages (a primary and/or high school education disrupted by the move) and one huge advantage — they can move to the U.S., as citizens, any time they want to do so; they can do it without seeking a visa and without facing any ceilings or waiting periods on their movements. (It would help individuals involved considerably if they carried a valid U.S. birth certificate when they sought to cross the border.)

This, then, is a potential group of future immigrants who are likely not to be counted as such and will thus swell our migrant population a bit without seeming to do so.

This whole subject came to my attention as these movements were mentioned in a long Washington Post article on emigration from the U.S. entitled “Why have millions of Americans Moved to These Countries Instead” on December 23. The Post article, in turn, is based in part on a longer piece in Population and Development Review and on Mexican census data.

The Mexican census for a recent but unknown date shows that while other foreign-born populations in Mexico come to a modest peak in the age population distribution in their early 30s, there is a very sharp peak for U.S.-born emigrants at about age 17 or 18. All of the latter are U.S. citizens; all now live in Mexico.

Other Findings. Among the other points made by the Post are these:

  • Emigration is not counted very well by nations, and its definition matters a lot; the article deals largely with where U.S.-born people wind up around the world; it does not deal, for example with citizen or retiree emigration (both of these populations would include people not born in the U.S.);
  • One of the largest group of U.S.-born returning from emigration are those in the armed forces; and
  • The stated interest in emigration peaks with our presidential elections with much higher levels of this interest shown in 2016 than in 2020.

So, where do Americans, as defined above, go when they emigrate? The article has a graph, using World Bank data, that shows that Mexico, with a stock of 750,000 or so U.S. emigrants, has far more of them than any other nation, including some of the young ones mentioned earlier; Canada ,with about 300,000, is second and then there are 200,00 or a little less in the U.K. In the 150,000 to 75,000 range, in descending order, are Germany, Australia, Israel, Japan, and Italy.

On December 29, the following headline showed up in the business section of the New York Times: “Do You Want to Buy a House in Canada? Not So Fast. Beginning Jan. 1, America’s neighbor to the north will ban most foreigners from buying residential property for two years. Why?”

It just goes to show that all American emigrants are not greeted with open arms everywhere. It could be regarded as a blow to our collective egos.

Topics: Mexico