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Great Mexican migration slows to trickle

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- The surge of immigrants to the United States from Mexico has apparently ground to a halt due to the weak U.S. economy and changing demographics in Mexico.

The Pew Hispanic Center said Monday data collected from U.S. and Mexican sources indicated the unprecedented influx that brought about 12 million Mexican immigrants to the United States in the past four decades had stalled and may have even reversed.

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Pew said about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States from 2005-10. At the same time an equal number moved back to Mexico with their U.S.-born children. That compared to about 3 million who moved to the United States in 1995-2000 and 700,000 who returned to Mexico with their kids.

Pew said the factors in the apparent standstill were varied, but the slowdown in the U.S. construction industry was a major factor along with stepped-up security at the increasingly perilous border and the greater risk of deportation once across. At the same time, more deportees have said they did not intend to try their luck again and return to the United States.

In addition, Mexico's birth rate has been declining at the same time economic opportunity south of the border has improved.

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In terms of sheer numbers, Mexico has sent more people to the United States than any other nation in history. Pew said only the big Irish and German migrations in the 19th Century equaled the recent Mexican influx in terms of percentage of overall population.

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