The topic of immigration from Mexico to the United States has been a hot topic over the past several years, and with the election of Donald Trump, the future of so many immigrants has been put into question. However, the details of Mexican-U.S. immigration are often muddled and misinterpreted. Immigrants who illegally made their way into the United States had to do so by traveling thousands of miles and traversing a desert that separates the two countries. It is no easy feat, and is a journey that is full of suffering. So why do so many people do it? What exactly is it that drives the flow of immigration from Mexico?
Mainly from rural communities
First of all, as we take the time to examine the specific causes of illegal immigration to the United States, it’s important to note that this immigration isn’t coming from the entirety of Mexico, but instead from specific rural communities in the northern part of the country. The immigrants that we hear so much about do not come from Mexico City, or other metropolitan areas. Many of these rural communities are struggling, badly, which is what has pushed so many to migrate. While some head further into Mexico, and towards the cities, many have also headed north to America. A major reason for this is that Mexico City is heavily populated (the most populated city in North America, as a matter of fact), and many of these migrants may not be educated enough to find stable work there.
Many parts of Mexico have been ravaged by rising poverty rates and extreme unemployment, in recent years. In fact, over 47% of the population lives below the poverty line. In the northern part of the country, many of these people are farmers, but the arid climate makes it difficult to produce enough crops to sustain their entire family. For many of these families, the desperation of the situation leaves them with little options, and many of them take it upon themselves to come to America. In particular, one frequently found situation is when a male makes their way into America to find work and send money back to his family. From this point, his family may possibly come join him once they have saved up enough resources, or else he may return to them.
Although Mexico is a part of the developed world, there is definitely a difference in the amount of infrastructure that exists between there and America. For example, a surprising 6% of the population in Mexico still lacks access to clean water, which is a measuring point of developed nations. There is no greater example of the strange disparity in Mexico than this fact: despite being the 15th wealthiest nation on the planet, Mexico still somehow manages to have the 19th highest percentage of people living below the poverty line. This is almost entirely due to underdeveloped infrastructure and corrupt practices within the country.
Regions of violence
Again, it’s important to note that most of Mexico is a stable country that is doing quite fine. However, many regions of the country suffer from high rates of violence and homicide, which lead to devastating instability. Oftentimes, these regions are also the ones in the northern part of the country that suffer from poverty. While some of this violence is driven by this poverty, there is also the added impact of high levels of drug-related crime, due to the power of several drug cartels that wield tremendous influence in Mexican society. If you’d like to read more about how these cartels affect many aspects of Mexican life, check out this blog series here.
Existing immigrant communities
The process of this immigration has also been self-sustaining, as time has gone on. This is because an added force that pulls migration to the United States is migrants that have already come here. Many of these immigrants have formed tight communities with each other in America, and they all keep their connections back home. As more immigrants move into the country and begin to set up a stable life, it becomes inviting to their friends and family back in Mexico to do so, also.