More Mexicans are leaving than moving into the United States, reversing the flow of a half-century of mass migration, according to a study published Thursday.
The Pew Research Center found that slightly more than 1 million Mexicans and their families, including American-born children, left the U.S. for Mexico from 2009 to 2014. During the same five years, 870,000 Mexicans came to the U.S., resulting in a net flow to Mexico of 140,000.
The desire to reunite families is the main reason more Mexicans are moving south than north, Pew found. The sluggish U.S. economic recovery and tougher border enforcement are other key factors.
The era of mass migration from Mexico is “at an end,” declared Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research.
The finding follows a Pew study in 2012 that found net migration between the two countries was near zero, so this represents a turning point in one of the largest mass migrations in U.S. history. More than 16 million Mexicans moved to the United States from 1965 to 2015, more than from any other country.
“This is something that we’ve seen coming,” Lopez said. “It’s been almost 10 years that migration from Mexico has really slowed down.”
The findings counter the narrative of an out-of-control border that has figured prominently in U.S. presidential campaigns, with Republican Donald Trump calling for Mexico pay for a fence to run the entire length of the 1,954-mile frontier. Pew said there were 11.7 million Mexicans living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of 12.8 million in 2007. That includes 5.6 million living in the U.S. illegally, down from 6.9 million in 2007.