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Economy's Effect on Migration
Without question, the seismic changes in the global economy will affect migration patterns, but evidence of those changes does not yet exist. Extreme caution is necessary in analyzing current statistics. For instance, Mexico's national statistical institute INEGI reported in November that emigration rates dropped from 14.6 per 1,000 in May 2006 to 8.4 per 1,000 in May 2008. We cannot know the exact role that the U.S. recession may have played in this decrease.
One thing, however, is clear: policymakers will need to adapt to the rapidly shifting needs of their labor markets as jobs become scarcer. At the same time, immigrants who can adjust to the labor market will be able to improve their employment outcomes.
U.S. Immigration Reform: Likely in 2009?
Although President-elect Barack Obama easily won the Hispanic vote (see Issue #4: Immigration Ultimately Not an Issue in the 2008 Election) and Democrats gained larger majorities in Congress, it will still be extremely difficult to enact large-scale immigration reform. The fiscal crisis and its economic consequences will clearly be the Obama administration's first priority, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and health-care reform also high on the to-do list.
And though Democrats are well aware that immigration reform is a top concern for Latinos, the issue is certain to create rifts in the Democratic Party. That suggests congressional leaders and the new administration may be reluctant to tackle it in the near term.
Still, Obama is giving all signs that he intends to push immigration reform forward, most notably with his selection of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who is a strong backer of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, to head the Department of Homeland Security.