By Kelli Ballard

Recent census numbers show a drastic decline in Mexican immigrants in the U.S., but should we really be surprised? President Trump’s crack down on illegal immigration and the strong message being sent to those contemplating coming here illegally was surely part of the reason. But, added to the sudden drop in Mexican immigrants comes another concern – lack of help for farmers and other industries. Should we be concerned? Let’s dig into the nuts and bolts of the situation.

By the Numbers

Just how much has the population of Mexican immigrants – legal and otherwise – dropped since Trump took office? According to an article in the Huffington Post, there were 11.7 million Mexico-born residents in the U.S. – a peak time for Mexican immigrants before the Great Recession sent a lot back home to try and scrape out a living. That number dropped slightly in 2017 to 11.3 million, but since Trump took office, it is estimated that 300,000 of these immigrants have left the U.S. between 2016 and 2017.

Here’s the comparison between Trump and Obama:

Mexican Immigrant population

Obama years

  • 2011 saw a drop by 38,484.
  • 2012 saw a drop by 109,245
  • 2013 saw an increase of 21,603.
  • 2014 saw an increase of 129,512.
  • 2015 saw a drop by 71,191.

Trump years

  • 2016 saw a decrease by 69,618.
  • 2017 saw a decrease by 303,767.

What does this tell us?  In five years under Obama, the Mexican immigrant population only actually decreased by 67,805, while in just two years under Trump, 373,385 immigrants left the U.S.  Between 2007 and 2008, during the Great Depression, was the last time we saw so drastic a reduction – approximately 326,000.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center of Immigration Studies, isn’t sure of the exact cause for immigrants leaving, but “If it is due to increased enforcement deterring some people from coming here illegally, that could be beneficial. If it prevents them from undertaking a dangerous journey that could cost them their life savings and result in their being harmed or even killed, that is a good thing.”

Why are Mexican Immigrants Leaving?

The obvious place to lay the blame is, of course, squarely on the president’s hardcore immigration policies. Many are afraid to come here because they’ve heard horror stories of mean ‘ole Americans stealing poor, starving children from their parents and putting them in child jails. Others may be leaving before being deported. Some claim their children are being harassed at school and just the overall tension and hatred directed at them has made them too uncomfortable to stay. Finding work is getting more difficult with ICE raiding work places looking for illegals.

All of these are likely reasons, but there’s another one that hasn’t been publicized in mainstream media – because it’s a coup for the president – that deserves some attention. Trump’s trade deal with Mexico has inspired the country to increase wages and even begin negotiations with unions. Some Mexico-born immigrants have returned to their families because they can earn a better income in the country of their birth, without leaving families behind.

The Strain of Immigrants Returning Home

The biggest impact of retreating immigrants seems to be with farmers and other industries that count on low wages earned by migrants. Cory Lunde, a director at the Western growers Association, said farmers have recently seen a drop of 15% to 30% in their workforce. “Many growers are combatting labor shortages by increasing automation,” he said.

California, known for its agriculture industry, lost 137,352 of its Mexican immigrant population between 2016 and 2017. Despite that it’s a sanctuary state, immigrants are still concerned about ICE and deportation. Does this hurt the farming business? A bit, but not yet significant enough to cry disaster. One might think the several years of drought, flash floods and record fires would be of more concern.

However, in this battle for immigration control, progressives everywhere will scream and shout, saying that we are destroying our nation and economy by forcing illegal migrants out. They do not look at the entire picture, of course. Cheap farm labor may help farmers, but it doesn’t help the rest of the country. Many illegal workers send their earnings home to their families in Mexico – that money isn’t redistributed into our economy. Billions of dollars are spent each year on health care, education, housing, food, and other provisions for people who are here illegally. It would be interesting to figure out just how much those 300,000 immigrants saved us just by leaving – but that’s a topic for another article. For now, let’s hope those numbers continue to climb until migrants realize that if they want to come to America, then they will need to follow the law and become tax paying citizens like the rest of us.

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