A slight bump in the flow of undocumented Mexican immigrants during the first half of 2012 appears to signal a rebound of some U.S. sectors that rely on low-skilled workers, according to a two-nation study.
The population of illegal immigrants has reached prerecession levels (11.7 million). That figure led the study's authors to argue that laws such Arizona's SB1070 that aim to expel undocumented immigrants by making it impossible for them to live and work in the U.S. had little impact.
In a way, the study reveals a simple fact: People will move where there is work. The latest federal jobs report shows that of the 114,000 jobs added in September, most were in health, transportation, and warehousing, sectors that employ minorities, including low-skilled legal and unauthorized immigrants.
Even a small increase in the need for Mexican labor "would prompt a positive response in the migration flows despite intensified enforcement efforts by the federal government, several states, and some local governments," according to the study.
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Despite three years of unemployment levels at 8 percent or higher, "the size of the Mexican migrant population has not shrunken." Similarly, record levels of federal deportations and state immigration laws have not curbed undocumented immigration, the study found.