The Mexican president cited job and education opportunities as well as health care as reasons for the change.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Felipe Calderón thinks he deserves some credit for the dramatic reduction in the flow of Mexican migrants to the United States.
The movement of northbound migrants, in decline for years, has fallen to the point where it is essentially offset by Mexicans returning home — leaving net migration at a virtual standstill, the Pew Hispanic Center reported Monday.
The center cited a mix of reasons for the migration drop-off, which demographers say could spell the end of the biggest immigration wave in U.S. history. The factors include economic recession in the United States that has dried up jobs, toughened border enforcement, increased deportations and declining Mexican birthrates.
A day later, speaking to a gathering hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Calderón hailed the findings, saying his administration’s policies have played a key role in keeping Mexicans at home and prompting others to return.
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“We are creating opportunities, job opportunities in Mexico, education opportunities for young people, health services and health care for the entire nation,” Calderón said, speaking in English.
Calderón acknowledged some Mexicans still think about leaving for the United States. “But the fact is there is a swing in terms of opportunity,” he said.
Migration experts in Mexico say the condition of the U.S. economy has historically been the most important factor in speeding or slowing the flow of Mexican workers to the north.
Besides a shortage of the kind of jobs that traditionally have drawn Mexican laborers, migrants say the trip has become too risky. Tougher U.S. enforcement means it is harder and more expensive to sneak across the border, while bloodthirsty criminal gangs prey on migrants on the Mexican side of the border.
Migrants also cite an increasingly hostile environment in states that have passed strict immigration laws, such as the Arizona measure being reviewed Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.