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Calderon Says Mexico Reduced Net Migration to U.S. to Zero

Mexican President Felipe Calderón
Mexican President Felipe Calderón delivers remarks to the US Chamber of Commerce US-Mexico Business Summit on April 24, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said that better education, more job opportunities and broader health-care availability in Latin America’s second-largest economy have cut net migration to the U.S. to zero.

Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Calderon, whose six-year term ends in December, said the North American Free Trade Agreement signed two decades ago has improved the economic outlook on both sides of the border. He criticized U.S. immigration policy that he said is needlessly restrictive and deprives U.S. farms of needed migrant labor.

“The fact is that net migration to the United States is zero,” he said, referencing a Pew Research Center study released yesterday that showed as many people are leaving the U.S. for Mexico as moving north to the U.S. from Calderon’s nation. “There’s a swing in terms of the opportunities. The agricultural sector in the United States is losing a lot competitiveness and opportunities due to the restrictions.”

After four decades that brought 12 million Mexicans to the U.S., more than half illegally and in what Pew says is the largest immigration wave to the U.S. from a single country, net migration has dropped to zero and may have reversed, Pew’s Hispanic center said in the study. From 2005 to 2010 about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. and an equal number moved from the U.S. to Mexico, Pew said.

The weakened U.S. job and housing construction market, a decline in Mexico’s birth rate and changing economic conditions in the Latin American nation are among the factors leading to this standstill, Pew said.

For the first time in at least two decades, the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S. decreased significantly from 2007 to 2011, falling to 6.1 from 7 million, according to the study, which analyzed data from five Mexican government sources and four U.S. government sources.

Calderon said Mexico’s investment in roads and airports has helped boost the nation’s competitiveness and that the economy is “in good shape” relative to the challenges the rest of the world is facing.

“Trade is positive for the country,” Calderon said.

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