As the number of job opportunities for both documented and undocumented immigrants decreases, the number of those returning to Mexico is skyrocketing, and this rise helping to keep “legalizaciones” afloat.
When moving back to Mexico, in order for citizens to bring their U.S.-bought vehicles into Mexico for use there, the owner needs to provide Mexican Customs with documented proof that the vehicle is not stolen, is up to Mexican road safety standards, and has not been salvaged. This is where legalization businesses or “legalizaciones” come in.
Businesses like Marcos Cota’s Legalizationes on Crawford Street in Nogales, Arizona run vehicle identification number and title and license information through databases held by government and private facilities to verify that the cars are legal to export.
Cota said he has seen “many, many more people” returning to Mexico – cars in tow – as the downturn of the economy has left fewer jobs for everyone, especially Mexican immigrants. While his customers come from all over, he said most of them are from western areas like Las Vegas and Phoenix, where construction industry jobs are few and far between.
According to a recent report from the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), since 2005, the number of Mexicans leaving Mexico has dropped by about two-thirds, from 450,000 to 145,000. The number returning has jumped from 351,000 to 1.1 million in the last five years.
“You see them with their big pickup trucks and a trailer on back loaded up with everything they own,” said Eduardo Sojo, INEGI’s president. “They say they can’t get a job or the police are giving them a hard time and their kids cant get into school, so they decide to go back to Mexico.”