Mexican Migration Flows: From Great Wave to Gentle Stream? | Wilson Center
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Mexican Migration Flows: From Great Wave to Gentle Stream?

Webcast available

Event Co-sponsors

Migration Policy Institute

Webcast Recap

There are few relationships as long-standing, rich, and complex as the relationship between Mexico and the United States. Mexicans have always made substantial contributions to the labor force, economy, and culture of the United States, and today Mexicans continue to be the largest immigrant population in the United States. Not only is this population substantial in size, the flow of Mexican migrants coming to the United States is becoming more diverse. From farm workers to engineers, restaurant owners to computer coders, Mexican immigrants reflect more and more the diversity and richness of the Mexican labor force. Yet, the number of Mexicans migrants coming to the United States has declined significantly in recent years.

This event shed light on the diversity of Mexicans migrants, as well as discuss opportunities and challenges for them to engage in U.S and Mexican policy. This event focussed on the changing face of Mexican migrants, a narrative of Mexican immigrants and their contributions to the United States, and a discussion on the political and economic power of Mexicans migrants in the UnitedStates and those return to Mexico.  

Selected Quotes (more to come)


Mark Lopez

“Mexico has changed. It’s a different country today in terms of opportunities than it has been in the past. But it’s also a country whose demographics have changed. So when we talk about the potential for migration from a place- how many young people are there? How many young people are there who don’t have a job, who might be looking for opportunities? As Mexico has changed, its economy has improved, young people have opportunities within the country.”

“When looking to the future, on many different pieces, you do see Latinos saying that they believe in the United States or they see opportunity here in the U.S. still, but I would caution that the optimism that we used to see among Latinos has somewhat diminished in our most recent survey, and Mexicans are no different in this particular survey.”

“When it comes to their own finances, many Latinos tell us that things have gotten worse in the last year and they don’t expect it to improve. Yet, that’s counter to the low unemployment rate that we’re seeing for Latino workers…Household incomes for Hispanic households have risen faster than any other group in the last year or so according to the census bureau. This sense of the environment of what’s happening and the connection to the Trump administration is something that is reflected in some of these responses in our survey, and the pessimism reflects a general pessimism about the U.S.”

Ramiro Cavazos

“The government could not assign Mexicans to reservations. Our customs, our language, our tradition, our values, our food, our communities have all become part of who America is today. We’re a nation that is already very Mexican, whether the U.S. government has liked it over the years or not.”

“The worst kind of discrimination, I think, is financial or economic discrimination. It’s the color green…If we’re going to be successful, it’s through education, financial strength, and it’s through NAFTA. It’s through agreements that give us, the North American continent, the ability to compete in a global economy using Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. as a fantastic economic bridge for our jobs and our companies.”

Alexandra Delcano

“Many of the exclusions and discrimination that migrants face in this country are very much present in Mexico…Returnees are excluded not just institutionally, but from society itself, from Mexican citizens who see them as ‘not Mexican enough’ or discriminate [against] them because of an accent or the way that they dress; they just look different…There is a fundamental need for societal change in Mexico as well in terms of how migrants coming to the country and also those who are abroad and that are returning.”

“There has been very much a focus on the migrants that are abroad, and how great they are, and how they can be a contribution to the U.S. and a contribution to Mexico through their remittances, through their skills…but when that person crosses the border back to Mexico, whether voluntarily or as a result of deportation, there is none of that discourse, none of that support, none of that infrastructure. This is a historical issue, that even though there has been a discourse of supporting migrants [that says] ‘return to your motherland,’ the reality is that there is no support system.”

“Community building is a really significant part of this, and mental health is a huge barrier to feeling a sense of belonging; just in the sense of a community that you are a part of, that you can participate in.”

Opening Remarks 


Hon. Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez
Mexican Ambassador to the United States




Fey Berman
Author, Mexamerica 

Ramiro Cavazos
President & CEO, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Alexandra Délano Alonso
Associate Professor & Chair of Global Studies, The New School 

Julia Gelatt
Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute 

Mario Hernández
 Director of Public Affairs, Western Union

Mark Hugo Lopez 
Director of Global Migration and Demography Research, Pew Research Center 

Maggie Loredo
Co-Founder & Co-Director, Otros Dreams en Acción  

Ariel Ruiz Soto
Associate Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute 

Rachel Schmidtke 
Program Associate for Migration, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center


Registration and Coffee will be provided from 9:00-9:30 a.m.