Mexican Migration to the United States: Revisiting Statistics and Estimates

Karen A. Woodrow-Lafield, University of Maryland

Extant estimates of Mexican migration to the U.S. emanate from official and unofficial sources. As the lawfully resident foreign-born population in the U.S. has increased and changed, the elusive population of undocumented residents has dramatically increased. A constant is the preeminent representation of Mexican migrants, although demographic accounts are problematic given circularity and status heterogeneity. Conventionality is characteristic of various studies, typically residual analyses, but divergences appear on data, assumptions, and methods. Some clarity is added by naturalizations of Mexicans in 1990-2009 that reached two million, and, with family reunification immigration, contributed evidence to the transformation of the Mexican migrant population. With the advent of new census surveys and special surveys, certain aspects of Mexican migration present promising directions for research that accounts for persistent questions about return migration, dual residence and nationality, migration histories for children, and accuracy and coverage of Mexico-born populations.

Presented in Session 145: Estimates of Mexico-U.S. Migration from the Perspective of Both Countries: 2010 Censuses and Other Sources