WASHINGTON (AFP) - More Mexicans returned home from the United States over the last five years than immigrated to the country, according to research out on Thursday (Nov 19).
The Pew Research Centre study of government data from both nations showed that between 2009 and 2014 about one million Mexicans and their families - including US-born children - returned home from the United States.
During the same period, some 870,000 Mexicans immigrated to the United States.
"Measuring migration flows between Mexico and the US is challenging because there are no official counts of how many Mexican immigrants enter and leave the US each year," Pew said.
"This report uses the best available government data from both countries to estimate the size of these flows."
Pew said that their results confirm a tendency toward less Mexican migration and more such nationals returning home.
Between 2005 and 2010, the number of Mexicans returning home from the United States was higher by some 20,000 people compared to the number of those migrating to the United States, Pew said. The 2009 to 2014 figures confirm that tendency.
Between 1995 and 2000, nearly three million Mexican immigrants immigrated to the United States, a figure that was nearly halved in the 2005 to 2010 period, Pew said.
There are several reasons to explain this phenomenon.
"The slow recovery of the US economy after the Great Recession may have made the US less attractive to potential Mexican migrants and may have pushed out some Mexican immigrants as the US job market deteriorated," Pew said.
Stricter enforcement of US immigration laws, especially on the US-Mexico border, may also have contributed.
"US border apprehensions of Mexicans have fallen sharply, to just 230,000 in fiscal year 2014 - a level not seen since 1971," Pew said.
Tougher US immigration crackdowns have "led to an increase in the number of Mexican immigrants who have been deported from the US since 2005".
When interviewed in Mexico, 60 per cent of those who returned say that family reunification was the main reason to go back home.
Immigration is a hot topic as the US presidential campaigns heat up, especially after Republican billionaire Donald Trump claimed that Mexican immigrants include drug traffickers and rapists.