While two weeks ago Damien Cave’s great New York Times piece highlighted the positive economic factors keeping Mexicans at home, this week the Wall Street Journal adds border crossing dangers to the reasons for a downward trend in undocumented migration. This holds doubly true for Central Americans. A recent RAND study shows that while fewer Mexicans are coming to the United States, fewer are leaving as well, even with the economic downturn. Its authors suggest that this is due to the “target earner hypothesis,” which holds that migrants will not return to their home country until they have earned a prefixed level of savings. I’d add that the increasing costs and dangers of returning must also affect migrants’ calculation.
Though unlikely before the 2012 presidential election, these changing dynamics may open a space again to talk about immigration reform. I recommend CFR’s immigration policy Task Force, published in 2009, for some serious thoughts on what U.S. national interests here comprise, and what should be done.
Lastly, Arturo Valenzuela’s tenure at the State Department has now officially ended. Steve Clemons offers his take, emphasizing the positive steps the outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs took toward establishing a more consistent, less volatile U.S. policy toward Latin America. Let’s hope for continuity rather than change going forward.