Undocumented immigration from Mexico has fallen, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of official figures from Mexico and the United States. The return of more Mexicans to their country of origin than those who venture to cross the border seeking greater opportunities is a trend that has been evident for several years.
The loss of jobs during the Great Recession, the tightening of the border and the increase in deportations has discouraged Mexicans from travelling north, while many more are returning to their country.
This reality seems not to have registered in the discourse heard for years from the party controlling Congress or in the current debate among presidential hopefuls. Donald Trump’s aggressive discourse against Mexican immigrants has turned the primary into a contest to see who is harder on the undocumented. It is a race to see who wants to deport, jail and divide more families faster. Voices of reason among the candidates had to change their tone or be relegated to the bottom of the polls.
The problem with the immigration issue is that data and reality have been replaced in a large cross-section of the Republican base by anecdotes, impressions, and inaccuracies. The undocumented have become an ideal target for explaining the lack of jobs, low salaries, deficits, public safety issues and anything bad that is hard to explain.
The economic changes that have been contributing an increasingly unequal society are reduced to an immigration problem—a particularly convenient excuse for the Republicans who are pushing the tax policies causing the disparity.
It is outrageous that politicians and candidates—far from demonstrating leadership—are devoting themselves to fueling false beliefs and actively promoting the among part of the electorate to gain their favor. The “invasion” of undocumented Mexicans is part of the narrative claiming that President Obama has left the border unprotected and his policies encourage immigration.
To say that the truth is precisely the opposite, as the analysis shows, would be to acknowledge the president’s political merit. That is unthinkable in the current Republican climate in which fantasy dominates the debate over immigration.