An unidentified protester holds a sign during an immigration reform rally last year in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Photo courtesy Sasha Y. Kimel under Creative Commons license. License details below.)
The last four years have been a rough road for Mexican immigrants in the US. Anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama and other states have disrupted lives and sent people packing, while record deportations have uprooted longtime residents and divided families. If public policy shifts weren’t enough, economic tremors have clobbered the Mexican immigrant community.
That’s according to a report by BBVA Research, an arm of the BBVA bank in Mexico.
In a new study, BBVA Research reveals that 900,000 Mexican immigrants residing in the US have fallen into poverty since the global economic crisis struck in 2008. At the same time, the number of second-generation Mexican immigrants slipping into poverty soared from 3.8 million in 2007 to 6 million in 2011, an increase which amounted to one-fourth of all second generation Mexican immigrants residing in this country.
Many immigrants and their families were dependent on construction and other hard-hit sectors of the economy.
Overall, 30 percent of Mexican immigrants now live in poverty, a number up from 22 percent before the crisis, according to BBVA Research. Prior to the Great Recession, poverty among Mexican immigrants was declining, the study reports.
“As a whole, Mexican migrants are among the groups that show high levels of poverty in the US; they were the most affected by the recent economic crisis, which brought them to the highest levels of poverty in the last two decades,” states the study. In comparison to the almost one-third of the Mexican immigrant population that finds itself in impoverished circumstances, 15 percent of the US population is considered to be in the same situation. By the same token, Mexican immigrant poverty is higher than the rate experienced by the overall US Latino population, which currently impacts 26.7 percent of the ethnic group.
Generalized trends of income concentration at the top and income decline at the bottom have likewise appeared in the Mexican immigrant community, though perhaps because of somewhat different dynamics at work. Although anti-immigrant measures and economic contraction have reduced the “traditional” migration of lower-skilled Mexican workers to the US to almost zero, a newer wave of Mexican immigrants, more educated and enjoying higher earning potential, has crossed the border during the past few years, according to Adolfo Albo, chief economist for BBVA Research.
Albo told the Mexican press that while only 4.7 percent of Mexican immigrants in the US earned $40,000 or more in 1997, the number in the similar category grew to 15 percent by this year.
“This could be explained by the search for opportunities, by family issues or perhaps by the insecurity in Mexico,” said Jose Luis Ordaz, one of the authors of the BBVA report. “This requires a more detailed analysis to determine the reasons that point toward these three factors.”
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Source: La Jornada, November 24, 2011. Article by Roberto Gonzalez Amador
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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