I work for a major news organization and often have heard the figure of 10 million illegal Mexicans. Unofficially, I have been quoted the number 20 million to 25 million illegals, most of them not Mexican. From experience with the government, I would say these numbers are low. Why the focus on the Mexicans? They are far less alien than the Asians or Africans, not to mention the Guatemalans. Explain?
Muy Smart Man
Trying to figure out how many illegal immigrants are in this country is like trying to determine who invented the margarita or what happened to Carlos Mencia. The long-accepted figure was 12 million undocumented folks in this country, until the Great Recession hit and dropped the number to somewhere between 10 and 11 million. Of that figure, it's generally accepted that Mexicans make up between half and two-thirds. Further complicating the matter is that differing numbers get spat out by organizations with political agendas, whether left (Pew Hispanic Center), right (U.S. government), or pinche puto pendejo baboso (FAIR). My suggestion? Don't even care about how many mojados are in this country — just accept the Reconquista and be at peace with America's new reality. Of course, America isn't, and that's why you see the obsession with Mexis instead of those rapacious Canadian illegals.
It seems all the discussion about Mexican immigration centers on "illegal" low-wage workers. But as part of NAFTA, many well-educated Mexicans have the right to work in the United States without restriction via the TN-1 visa. This sort of immigration seems to have no press, and a spin around Google doesn't show any websites discussing this other than ones covering the mechanics of the process. Why isn't this kind of immigration more visible? Any sense of how big it is? Has it had an effect in Mexico, either in a brain drain to the United States, or just in encouraging more people to go into the sciences because of the ability to work internationally? Are the Mexicans complaining we're stealing all their best people? (That's the secret plan, isn't it? We grab your land, then your people: soon all of Mexico will be ours!)
The number of Mexicans who have entered this country under a TN visa has increased dramatically, from 168 in 1997 to 3,376 in 2010, according to numbers kept by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Mexico has a proud tech industry — the Mayans, after all, invented the concept of zero and were space travelers (and let's not even get into their scary-ass accurate calendar — and such opportunities will only increase as Mexico becomes more wired and less dependent on Carlos Slim for their tech needs. You don't hear about this type of migration because smart Mexicans don't exist in the American mind. And I wish the TN visa was the main reason for the Mexican brain drain, but a narco war will do that to a country.
Preorder Taco USA! Gentle cabrones: My much-promised Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America will finally hit bookstores April 10, but that doesn't mean you can't already order it (yes, grammar snobs: I just used a double-negative, but Mexican Spanish loves double-negatives the way we do cute second cousins). Place your order with your favorite local bookstore, your finer online retailers, your craftier piratas, but place it: My libro editor has already promised to deport me from the publishing industry if we don't sell enough copies! And stay tuned for book-signing info!