By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
[Please read an update on this story here.]
Mexico is bracing for the consequences of the U.S. economic crisis. Among these is an increase in Mexican immigrants going back to their home country — chased away by the lack of jobs north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the general economic downturn, as well as tougher enforcement of immigration laws.
Antonio García Conejo, an official from the Mexican state of Michoacán, is one of those pointing to a dramatic increase in Mexicans leaving the U.S. and returning home.
The return of Mexicans has already started, but many more arrivals are expected at the end of the year and in 2009.
Conejo was quoted by the Mexican newspaper El Universal. His state has been a major beneficiary of remittances, money sent home by expatriates living and working in the United States. The level of remittances to Mexico has been falling since last year, initially due to the slowing U.S. housing market.
In another story published Wednesday, El Universal said that 1,400 Mexicans are crossing the border back into Tamaulipas state from Texas every week — double the normal amount, according to a state legislator. The border city of Nuevo Laredo has decided to charter buses to help those people reach their home communities in states to the south to prevent an increase in local unemployment and vagrancy, the official said.
The wave of immigrants returning to an already struggling Mexican economy could be massive. A Milenio newspaper columnist citing an official report from the Puebla state government says about two million Mexicans are expected to go back next year. Deborah Bonello, a reporter blogging for the Los Angeles Times from Mexico City, reports a much lower estimate by Cruz Lopez, head of Mexico’s National Confederation of Farm Workers:
Mexico should prepare itself for both the forced and voluntary return of more than 350,000 of its people currently living in the United States due to the financial crisis north of the border…