NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 16, 2009

After a historic immigration wave, many Mexicans and other Latin Americans are preparing to return to their homelands amid the deepening recession here. Mexicans who reside in the United States sought Mexican citizenship for their U.S.-born children in record numbers last year.

The recession is hitting Hispanic immigrants especially hard, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

  • The unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics hit 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 5.1 percent in the same quarter a year earlier.
  • During the same period, the unemployment rate for all U.S. workers climbed to 6.5 percent from 4.6 percent.

"There is strong evidence that inflows to the United States from Mexico have diminished, and the economic distress is likely giving immigrants already here greater incentive to return home," says Rakesh Kochhar, the Pew economist who prepared the report.

Additionally, the number of people caught trying to sneak into the U.S. along the border with Mexico is at its lowest level since the mid-1970s. While some of the drop-off is the result of stricter border enforcement, the weaker U.S. economy is likely the main deterrent. Border Patrol agents apprehended 705,000 people attempting to enter illegally in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30. That is down from 858,638 a year before and from 1.1 million two years earlier.

Source: Miriam Jordan, "As U.S. Job Opportunities Fade, More Mexicans Look Homeward," Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2009 and "Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants in 2008," Pew Hispanic Center, February 12, 2009.

For article text:

For report:


Browse more articles on Government Issues