More Mexican migrants came to the United States than left the U.S. for Mexico between 2013 and 2018 – a reversal of the trend in much of the prior decade, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the most recently available data capturing migration flows from both countries.

An estimated 870,000 Mexican migrants came to the U.S. between 2013 and 2018, while an estimated 710,000 left the U.S. for Mexico during that period. That translates to net migration of about 160,000 people from Mexico to the U.S., according to government data from both countries.

In the period from 2009 to 2014, by contrast, about a million people left the U.S. for Mexico while 870,000 Mexicans made the reverse trip, for net migration of about 130,000 people from the U.S. to Mexico. A similar trend from 2005 to 2010 resulted in effectively zero net migration between the two countries. (Due to the way the Mexican government sources report data, this analysis uses several overlapping time periods: 2005-2010, for example, and 2009-2014. In addition, migration from Mexico in this analysis includes only those who were born there, while migration to Mexico includes those born in Mexico, the U.S., and elsewhere.)

The main change in net flow between the two countries in the most recent period comes from the decreased return flow from the U.S. to Mexico – 1.0 million from 2009 to 2014 down to 710,000 from 2013 to 2018 – rather than an increase in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. The number of Mexican immigrants going from Mexico to the U.S. stood unchanged at 870,000 for both 2009 to 2014 and 2013 to 2018.

There are several potential reasons for the changing patterns of migration flows between the two nations. In the U.S., job losses during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 in industries in which immigrants tend to be heavily represented may have pushed a large number of Mexicans to migrate back to Mexico, which in the aftermath of the recession also made the U.S. less attractive to potential Mexican migrants. In addition, stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration laws both at the southwest border and within the interior of the U.S. may have contributed to the reduction in Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. in the years leading up to 2013.


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