View Full Version : Survey: Half of Mexicans want to come here

08-17-2005, 07:08 AM
Analysts in that nation blast a U.S.-based poll as misleading

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Foreign Service

MEXICO CITY - A survey reported Tuesday that nearly half of all Mexicans would like to live in the United States and that the sentiment seemed as strong among Mexico's college-educated middle class as the poor.

Some analysts said the results reflect the failure of the Mexican economy to provide good jobs and satisfactory wages, despite a decade of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexican government officials, however, attacked the report's conclusion as misleading and unrealistic.

'Propensity to migrate'
In the survey of 1,200 Mexican adults, conducted in May by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center, 46 percent said they would like to live in the United States if they had the opportunity. Among college graduates, 35 percent said they would head north.

"Even at the high ends of the socioeconomic characteristics, we see that the propensity to migrate is quite strong," said Pew Hispanic Center Director Roberto Suro in Washington. "Mexico's economy doesn't satisfy their expectations."

The survey also concluded that 21 percent of Mexicans are inclined to work in the United States without proper entry documents.

A different story
The survey drew fire from at least one analyst here, Daniel Lund, director of the Mexico City-based market research firm Mund Americas.

"It is one thing asking people in an abstract sense if they would prefer better wages," Lund said. "It's another seeing how many people are actually making the trip northward."

Lund said that his firm's own surveys have found that only 15 percent of Mexicans have a real desire to head to the U.S.

Salvador Berumen, a director at the Mexican government's Population Council, said the idea of half of Mexicans wanting to leave was alarmist and unfeasible.

"We understand immigration is a serious problem, but we shouldn't exaggerate the issue," Berumen said. " ... If half of the population wanted to leave, this country would be deserted."

According to the Population Council, 400,000 Mexicans, or less than 0.4 percent of the population, migrate to the United States every year. About 75 percent of these people enter the United States illegally, the council says. In July, the CIA estimated Mexico's population at 106 million.

Nearly 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, including about 6 million Mexicans, according to a recent report from the Pew Hispanic Center.

NAFTA effects negligible
Many Mexican politicians hoped NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, would raise wages.

But stiff competition from China, and a long-running depression in the Mexican agriculture sector, have kept unemployment high and wages low, said Monica Gambrill, an expert on the agreement at Mexico's National Autonomous University.

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