The Washington Post took a stab at immigration reporting over the weekend, concluding that while immigration from Mexico and Central America is, indeed, a problem, it turns out Americans also immigrate to Mexico, so really, we’re even.
“President Donald Trump regularly assails the flow of migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States,” the paper of record says. “Less noticed has been the surge of people heading in the opposite direction.”
The “surge” seems to be rather less of an influx than what typically goes the other way. The Post reports that Mexico is suffering from what they term a “pickleball invasion” of several hundred American retirees that have moved south in order to take advantage of year-round pickleball availability. The sport is now so popular that the world pickleball championships are held in Mexico — the result of widespread pickleball-based migration.
In total, the paper admits, between 800,000 and 1.5 million Americans have chosen to relocate south of the United States-Mexico border, but that’s altogether since Mexico began keeping track of legal American immigrants. The number has grown “fourfold,” the paper says, since 1990. The “surge of people heading in the opposite direction” from the vast majority of Central American migrants has happened over the course of three decades.
Many of these immigrants to Mexico aren’t unfamiliar with the country. At least 600,000 of those 800,000 to 1.5 million are “U.S.-born kids … who’ve returned with their Mexican-born parents.”
They are also largely legal immigrants.
In sharp contrast, the number of migrants apprehended at the United States border coming up from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala has topped 100,000 for two months in a row, and the Department of Homeland Security suggests that more than a million illegal immigrants could end up in the United States this year alone.
But the key to the Washington Post’s comparison is the Post’s misunderstanding — either accidental or deliberate — of the current immigration situation. The flow of Americans across the border to Mexico is, indeed, more significant now than the flow of immigrants form Mexico across the border into the United States — but that’s because Mexicans themselves aren’t the ones showing up at immigration facilities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, looking to declare asylum.
The story claims that President Donald Trump has declared war on immigrants from Mexico, but the president’s rhetoric has centered around the lack of Mexican effort at stemming the flow of migrants from further south. The president threatened to close the border with Mexico over Mexico’s failure to enforce its own immigration laws — capturing and deporting members of Central American “migrant caravans” before the reach American soil.
Mexico has since taken a much harsher approach to migrant caravans, cutting many off before they get far beyond the Mexico-Guatemala border, offering temporary work permits to those who wish to stay in Mexico and deporting those who turn them down.
The White House announced last week that it’s open to considering comprehensive immigration reform, and that it has a “draft plan” to begin negotiations. The plan would switch the U.S. from a largely family-based immigration system to a merit-based immigration system over the course of the next decade, while setting money aside to beef up interdiction at the southern border. The plan is bare-bones and contains nothing relating to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) program, but the White House says it’s a place to start.