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August 1994, Volume 1, Number 7

Illegal Americans in Mexico

According to Mexican officials, 200,000 Americans are living illegally in Mexico, some of the "drybacks" have been attracted to Mexico by the promise of NAFTA-inspired jobs. There are 150,000 Americans registered with Mexico's National Migration Institute as permanent residents, and two million Americans visit Mexico every year as tourists.

Americans entering Mexico receive automatic six-month tourist visas, versus the one-month visas granted to most Latin Americans. These visas can be renewed by crossing the US border and returning. Most illegal Americans appear to be retirees living in Baja, California, but there are ever more frequent reports of young and educated Americans arriving in Mexico City to teach English.

Under Mexican law, Americans wishing to retire in Mexico must have an income of at least $ 2,000 a month, and business visitors must prove that they have an association with an established U.S. or Mexican company.


Andres Oppenheimer, "U.S. citizens live illegally in Mexico--Drybacks' seeking jobs," Dallas Morning News, July 17, 1994, 1A. Andres Oppenheimer, "Door between Mexico, US Swings Both Ways," Miami Herald, July 5, 1994.