South of the Border, Where Mexico’s Economy and its Future May be Brighter than in U.S.

Published on June 18th, 2014

As unaccompanied minors flood across the U.S.-Mexico border, advocates’ cries of how federal immigration law breaks up families get louder by the day. After all, if the borders were officially wide open, then the 120 alien children who arrive each day could be accompanied by their parents or another responsible adult.

For all the publicity the mainstream media and pro-immigration lobbyists give to the breaking-up-families argument, little is said about the evidence which proves that leaving Mexico, where most of the illegal immigration comes from, is economically unnecessary. The proverbial better life that aliens reportedly come to America to experience is available in Mexico too.

Mexico’s unemployment rate in April 2014 was a microscopic 4.8 percent, and during the two decades from 1994 to 2014 averaged an even lower 3.8 percent. Of working age Mexicans, 95.2 percent were actively employed. To be sure, some of those jobs are in low- paying sectors. But trading a short-pay job in Mexico for similar employment at U.S. restaurants and hotels or in childcare makes little sense.

On the other hand, good, decent-paying jobs are available in Mexico, especially in the automotive industry. Alberto Rabago, a union official who works for Chrysler in Mexico, told Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff that Mexico’s lower cost of living makes comparisons to U.S. wages deceptive. Said Rabago: “When I came here 20 years ago, people didn’t even have indoor plumbing. Now they have pickup trucks, satellite TV and send their kids to universities.”

A recent Brookings Institute report found that U.S. and Japanese-based automakers have expanded their Mexican manufacturing capability to a point where the country is the world’s eighth largest vehicle producer with more multimillion dollar investment, and more jobs, on the way.

In one-on-one debates with immigration advocates, I’ve asked why people would leave their native land, where they’re surrounded by family and friends, to migrate to a country where they don’t speak the language and, because of limited skills, would be subject to employer exploitation. No one has ever given me a good answer.

Because the economy in Mexico looks more encouraging than it is in the U.S., my unanswered question is even more puzzling.

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