They keep coming to the United States — the men and women from rural Mexico — to work in the flower fields, nurseries, avocado groves and sundry jobs throughout the country. Some would say that they are coming as criminal invaders.
So say rabid anti-immigrant groups such as the Center for Immigration studies (CIS), a John Tanton uber-radical organization in Washington.
There are an estimated 12 million (or fewer) illegal mostly Mexicans living and working in the country.
“Soon, however, fewer of them will be coming here to work.” I wrote these words a decade ago.
Watching the Sunday news shows validated that statement, validated it by the White House that declares that the number of illegal border crossers in Arizona alone is down 20 percent from a year ago. In the past three years, many experts declare the drop is closer to 30 percent. Regardless, fewer illegals are coming to the USA from Mexico.
Is it because of stronger border enforcement or more Border Patrol Agents? Or is it official hysteria in Arizona’s legislature with its controversial and likely unconstitutional heavy-handed anti-illegal law, SB 1070?
No. In that column I wrote in 2000, I stated, “The supply of willing Mexican emigres to the United States will shrink in coming years. Within a decade, the number of Mexicans illegally entering the United States will diminish to the point of endangering the production of our food supply.” A decade later, illegal border crossings have fallen dramatically.
Reasons: Birth and fertility rates. According to the New York Times and the CIA World Fact Book, Mexican women gave birth to 7 children per in 1965. That rate dropped to 2.5 in 1999 and an estimated 2.31 in 2010. (Aside: The CIS “estimates” that Mexican immigrant women – legal and illegal- in the USA have a 3.5 birth rate, a third higher than the general American population. The CIS camouflages it’s anti-immigrant basis for existence thus their “estimates” are questionable).
Results, many American farmers in the West and Southwest complain now that there aren’t enough workers to pick crops and crops are rotting in the fields.
The steady decline can be attributed to plunging birth rates, little else counts.
Mexico City with its urban millions led the way in lower births. The declining Mexico City birth rate spread to the rural areas that have long supplied the young men who immigrated to The North, El Norte. This is the result of a 30-year-long birth-control program hustled in every rural village by the Mexican government.
Despite mild opposition from the Catholic Church, the PAN governments of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon persisted in promoting this program, and the country will soon reap the double-edged rewards of a declining birth rate. Mexican women, who traditionally have not worked outside the home have entered the workforce, which also contributes to the drop in national fertility rates.
As Mexico’s economy grows and modernizes, more and more real jobs are created. This growth theoretically absorbs those rural farmers who have been displaced by cheaper American corn, a cheap corn that replaces inefficient and money losing small-plot corn agriculture that has dominated Mexico for decades. Mexican consumers benefit by cheaper American corn despite cries from anti-Nafta people that the agreement is “destroying” traditional agriculture.
As the number of young people, especially rural young men, shrinks, an unprecedented situation may come to pass: Mexico will have more jobs than people to work them. Consequently, wages will rise.
Thus, as the promise of NAFTA is becoming reality in Mexico, Mexicans will have all the jobs they can fill in Mexico soon. They won’t need to come here looking for subsistence work. At least, that’s the theory.
When? The phenomenon actually began five years ago and proceeds into the future.
Mexican demographer Agustin Escobar said in 2000 that for 15 years, the number of working-age Mexicans entering the labor force remained steady. “We needed emigration to help our people find work,” he said. “But now we can see that the future is going to be quite different from what we saw in the 1980s and 1990s.”
I wrote in 2000, “Escobar thinks that by 2010 the number of Mexican emigrants to the United States will decrease to such an extent that it will pose problems for the U.S. economy—specifically for California’s agricultural economy.” How prescient—for that is exactly what has happened.
Farm owner groups think that the percentage of illegal aliens in the farm work force might be as high as 80 percent. California depends on illegal- immigrant labor to pick almost all crops in the most productive farmland in the country. If illegals from Mexico aren’t there to pick the crops, who will?
We now know two things: (1) smaller numbers of Mexican men will come North as their population cohort decreases; (2) as the Mexican labor market constricts because of lower birth rates, Mexican wage rates will rise obviating the need of entry level working Mexican men to come to the United States.
That is happening today.
Proof: Fewer Mexicans coming illegally to the United States, a trend that started long before Arizona even thought of its infamous SB 1070 law.