Immigration from Mexico is down significantly thanks in large part to the poor economy in the United States. According to new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, recent net migration from Mexico is now zero. From the report’s key findings:

  • In the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States and about 1.4 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the United States to Mexico.
  • In the five-year period a decade earlier (1995 to 2000), about 3 million Mexicans had immigrated to the U.S. and fewer than 700,000 Mexicans and their U.S. born-children had moved from the U.S. to Mexico.
  • This sharp downward trend in net migration has led to the first significant decrease in at least two decades in the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.—to 6.1 million in 2011, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007. Over the same period the number of authorized Mexican immigrants rose modestly, from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2011.

Since the 1970′s there has been a huge wave of Mexicans moving to the United States. That had created the largest single influx of immigrations from any one country, but this trend now seems to have not only stopped but possibly reversed.

It’s not yet clear whether this marks a significant, permanent turning point in American immigration and demographic patterns or simply a blip caused by the bad US economy. A lower birth rate in Mexico and its growing economy, though, may indicate this drop in immigration continues even if the US economy improves.

In the political short term, this may partly explain why the issue of immigration has dropped in importance since the downturn. Not only do more immediate economic concerns supplant it for many voters, but the bad economy also reduces the amount of immigration taking place.

In the political long term, if this newer trend does hold up and applies to other Latin American immigrants, many projections about the growth of the Hispanic vote may need to be revised downward. While Hispanics are almost guaranteed to make up a somewhat larger percentage of the population in the future, a significant shift in immigration patterns could mean this ethnic group will not grow nearly to the size past trends would indicate.

After all, there was once was a time when demographers predicted that if immigrations patterns held steady, the United State would become almost entirely Irish by 2000.