Photo: The "Arizona effect" played a major role
The recession that began in late 2007 and tough immigration laws pushed by Arizona and other U.S. states have slowed the growth of immigration from Mexico to its northern neighbor, according to a study released in Mexico City by the BBVA Bancomer Foundation.
The weak U.S. economy was the principal factor in discouraging Mexican immigrants in 2008-2009, but starting in 2010, the “Arizona effect” played a larger role, the document asserts.
It was in 2010 that Arizona enacted SB 1070, a harsh anti-immigrant measure which inspired similar legislation in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
The foundation noted that with the economic crisis about 500,000 Mexican immigrants lost their jobs.
“However, after the so-called ‘Arizona Law,’ a phase of about a year began of reductions in jobs for Mexican immigrants during which they lost about 350,000 employment positions,” the report said.
It adds that the states that implemented anti-immigration laws reduced the number of Mexican migrants in the United States by 133,000.
The study says that other factors such as reinforcing the southern U.S. border do not seem to have had as much weight as the economic slowdown and the Arizona effect.
Despite the stagnation in immigration from Mexico to the United States, starting in the second half of 2010 remittances to Mexico began to recover, signaling a positive trend.
For 2012, estimates are that remittances could grow at a rate of between 7.3 percent and 8.1 percent, whereby they would exceed the amount in dollars taken in between 2009 and 2011 and would achieve an annual growth above that registered in each of the years during the period 2007-2011, the report adds.
The study says that Mexican migrants “contribute in a significant way” to U.S. gross domestic product.
In 2003, Mexican immigrants contributed about 3.8 percent of the U.S. GDP, a percentage that grew year by year to the historic maximum of 4.1 percent in 2007. In 2009, after the effects of the recession, the participation of Mexican migrants in the U.S. economy once again declined to 3.8 percent of GDP.
California is the state where Mexican immigrants make the largest contribution, with about 12 percent of the state GDP in 2011. It is followed by Arizona and Nevada, both with almost 10 percent, and Texas with around 9 percent.
Finally, the study says that in 2013, Mexico and the United States will have new (or newly reconfirmed) administrations, which presents “an opportunity in immigration matters that could start a consideration of the benefits of immigration for both countries, as well as the complementary elements of both economies.”