Development and Migration In Rural Mexico

January 1, 2011

The immigration debate, while focused on domestic issues, largely overlooks some of the principal causes of unauthorized migration to the United States: poverty and inequality in Latin America. 

The U.S. government identifies Latin America as the primary source (80 percent) of unauthorized immigration, but its responses internally, at the border, and through its foreign assistance to migrantsending countries is focused on enforcement. 

Border enforcement fails to impact the causes of unauthorized migration in Latin America and U.S. foreign assistance to Latin America typically doesn’t take into account its impact on migration pressures. U.S. policy toward migrant-sending countries in Latin America mirrors its enforcement-focused domestic policy. Assistance to Mexico is dominated by the Mérida Initiative, which emphasizes aid to Mexico’s security agencies. 

This report analyzes a project in rural Mexico that was designed with an awareness of the connections between development and migration. The project is analyzed in this report to inspire discussion and action linking development and the reduction of migration pressures. 

Projects that make these connections deserve increased attention in order to broaden the immigration policy discourse to include options for reducing poverty and migration pressures at the source.

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