Speakers at a form at UTSA last night on the 'myths' of immigration said people who are fighting against Mexican immigration and calling for the US Mexico border to be secured are in many ways fighting yesterday's war, 1200 WOAI news reports.
UTSA Demographer Joachim Singlemann says there is one major myth about immigration today that seems impervious to the facts.
"That we are being inundated by Mexicans, and that we have no way of stopping it," he said.
In fact, he says Mexican immigration into the U.S., both legal and illegal, is very much in the past, and he says the situation today has leveled out.
"Right now we are close to zero net migration, that means as many people go back as come in."
Singlemann says there are many reasons why the trend of Mexican illegal immigration, which drove the debate for the last two decades, has changes. He cites an improving economy in Mexico, where the unemployment rate and GDP growth are actually better than in the U.S. There are also major improvements underway in Mexico's education system.
But Singlemann says one factor in the changing face of Mexican immigration, and one that is likely to make the current trends permanent, is the fact that the average Mexican woman, in the 1970s, had more than five children, while today that number is down to slightly above two.
"Still slightly higher than the U.S., but a far more manageable situation," he said.
There has never been an economy in world history that can absorb a replacement rate of 5 to 2, which is why the nineties and the first decade of the 21st Century were banner years for illegal immigration from Mexico. Mexico simply had an excess of young people, especially young men, who had to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Singlemann says with changes in Mexico's economic structure, it is also easier for a young person who has amassed a little bit of savings to invest it profitably in Mexico than in the U.S., which gives Mexican citizens in the U.S. more of an incentive to return home.
But the demographers say if people want to remain fired up about illegal immigration, they have every right to, but they should look across the Pacific rather than across the Rio Grande.
Singlemann says China now has the same excess of young men that Mexico was creating in the seventies, as the country's controversial 'one child' policy has led to an estimated 50 million more young men than young women in that country.
"This may be in the long run, the largest source of immigration into the U.S. ever," Singlemann said.
And unlike splashing across the Rio Grande or running across the dusty Arizona frontier, illegal immigrants from China will arrive at the country's sea ports, mainly Los Angeles and Houston, as well as at airports, many with forged visas from Taiwan.
He says Chinese immigration could exceed the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico that the U.S. has absorbed over the past three decades.
"It could well be that in about twenty years or so, the number of both legal and illegal Chinese immigrants will exceed the number of illegals from Mexico," he said