The New York Times fronts today with a long piece about how changing fortunes in Mexico are affecting rates of illegal immigration into the United States. It’s not unambiguously good news, but there’s enough cognitive dissonance in the piece to keep you chewing through the weekend. Here’s the nut graph:
A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States.
On how the economy is actually getting better:
Jalisco’s quality of life has improved in other ways, too. About a decade ago, the cluster of the Orozco ranches on Agua Negra’s outskirts received electricity and running water. New census data shows a broad expansion of such services: water and trash collection, once unheard of outside cities, are now available to more than 90 percent of Jalisco’s homes. Dirt floors can now be found in only 3 percent of the state’s houses, down from 12 percent in 1990.
And the place is getting better educated:
The census shows that throughout Jalisco, the number of senior high schools or preparatory schools for students aged 15 to 18 increased to 724 in 2009, from 360 in 2000, far outpacing population growth. The Technological Institute of Arandas, where Angel studies engineering, is now one of 13 science campuses created in Jalisco since 2000 — a major reason professionals in the state, with a bachelor’s degree or higher, also more than doubled to 821,983 in 2010, up from 405,415 in 2000.
Similar changes have occurred elsewhere. In the poor southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, for instance, professional degree holders rose to 525,874 from 244,322 in 2000.
It also does not hurt that the US has changed its approach to helping Mexicans immigrate legally:
[The US consular official] insisted that his staff members change their approach with Mexicans who had previously worked illegally in the United States.
“The message used to be, if you were working illegally, lie about it or don’t even try to go legally because we won’t let you,” said one senior State Department official. “What we’re saying now is, tell us you did it illegally, be honest and we’ll help you.”