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Guadalajara, Mexico April 6-8, 2000

Report of the seminar on
Emigration and Development:
Focus on West Central Mexico
April 6-8, 2000
Philip Martin
Michael Teitelbaum
May 3, 2000


The eighth Migration Dialogue seminar was held April 6-8, 2000 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Migration Dialogue seminars provide an opportunity for 40 opinion leaders to discuss in an intensive and off-the-record setting the major immigration and integration issues facing emigration, transit, and immigration countries in the 21st century.

This report was prepared after the seminar for participants and others interested in migration and development issues. It has not been read or approved by participants, and should not be construed as a consensus document discussed and debated by participants. An agenda and list of participants are attached.

The issues discussed have important policy implications. Is Mexico-US migration declining for demographic and economic reasons, and will this decline be noticeable after 2005, just as the US completes the doubling of Border Patrol agents and the construction of fences along the Mexico-US border? If yes, will immigration controls be credited for what family planning and job growth accomplished, encouraging the US and other immigration destinations to draw the "wrong lessons" from the Mexico-US experience? Alternatively, is emigration so ingrained in West Central Mexico that rapid increases in US control expenditures are justified to contain what would otherwise be ever-increasing migration?
Mexico-US Migration
There are about 108 million persons alive today who were born in Mexico; about eight million have migrated to the US to settle, half in the 1990s, meaning that about one in 25 Mexicans moved to the US in the 1990s. Some 250,000 to 350,000 Mexicans continue to settle in the US each year, and more—perhaps one million—work and live at least part of each year in the US. Mexico's population grows by about 1.8 million a year; but with emigration of 300,000 a year, the population growth rate is 1.5 percent, not 1.8 percent. The Mexicans in the US include about 2.5 million naturalized US citizens, about three million legal immigrants, and about 2.5 million unauthorized persons.

Mexico to United States migration has a long history, and has become one of the most important linkages between the two most populous countries in North America. Just as "Go west for opportunity" was an American aphorism in the 19th century, "Go north for opportunity" has become deeply embedded in Mexican youth, especially in the rural areas of west central Mexico. Mexico-US migration has diversified, but two-thirds of the Mexican migrants in the US still come from seven of Mexico's 31 states in the west central area of Mexico anchored by Guadalajara.

The origins of modern Mexico-US migration lie largely inside the United States. The US approved the recruitment of Mexican workers for US farmers just after World War I and again between 1942 and 1964. These Bracero programs gave millions of Mexicans experience in the US labor market, and made many farmers dependent on Mexican workers. Many Mexicans worked in the US outside these guest worker programs, and a tolerance for illegal or unauthorized Mexico-US migration developed on both sides of the border.

Rapid population growth and an economic development model that favored state-run industrialization produced widespread rural poverty, which encouraged rural-urban migration. Mexico's population increased six-fold in the 20th century, from 17 million in 1900 to 100 million in 2000. During the 1970s, the population growth rate peaked at 3.4 percent, and the average Mexican woman had six children. Mexico discovered that it had significant oil reserves, and government spending increased rapidly. Anti-poverty programs were symbolized by government corn policies, which offered high prices for corn to help corn growers, and subsidized tortillas consumed in cities. The corn program was expensive and not very efficient in reducing poverty, and was abandoned in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 1980s were the critical decade for Mexico-US migration. The US economy boomed during the Reagan-era defense buildup, creating millions of jobs, especially in California. The Mexican peso was devalued in 1982 and again in 1986-87—there was no growth in formal sector employment in Mexico between 1982 and 1988. There were also two important policy changes that added to supply-push factors--Mexican economic policies changed from inward to outward oriented, symbolized by Mexico joining the GATT in 1986, and the US enacted the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Joining GATT symbolized the switch in Mexico to market-oriented economic policies which hastened outmigration from agriculture, and IRCA included a generous amnesty and ineffective employer sanctions, giving about 1.7 million Mexicans legal immigrant status, and enabling millions more Mexicans to come to the US for family unification and jobs.

The IRCA legalization included a program for unauthorized foreigners who did at least 90 days of farm work in 1985-86. One million Mexicans, typically married men in their late 20s, became legal US immigrants, but their family members were specifically excluded from legalization because, the argument went, these farm workers wanted their families to remain in Mexico while they commuted to seasonal US jobs. One number may help to put the scale of the IRCA legalization in perspective—the US legalized about one-sixth of the adult men in rural Mexico in the late 1980s. In the mid-1980s, there were about 30 million Mexicans living in rural areas. Most families were large, so there were five to six million rural households. As Mexico changed its economic policies, these now legal immigrants began to unify their families in the US, sharply increasing the enrollment of both authorized and unauthorized children in California schools and setting the stage for the California backlash against illegal immigration symbolized by Proposition 187.

Mexico-US migration increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the wake of legalization that was supposed to wipe the slate clean. At the same time, the governments sought closer economic integration. Despite cautions by experts that economic integration would reduce migration only in the mid- to long-term, Mexican and US officials expressed the hope that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect on January 1, 1994, would immediately begin to reduce Mexico-US migration. They expressed the view that Mexico would export tomatoes rather than tomato pickers as Mexicans moved from areas such as corn farming in which Mexico does not have a comparative advantage to producing tomatoes, which Mexico can do cheaply. Instead, there was an economic depression in 1995, and about 10 percent of the formal jobs in Mexico disappeared. Optimists who argued that Mexico had finally turned the corner were burned again, and talk of Mexico-US migration falling soon and sharply was less common.

However, there were real changes in Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s that have set the stage for less Mexico-US migration in the 21st century. Most important were demographic changes. Mexico had one of the world's most remarkable demographic transitions in the 1970s, with fertility falling from an average 6.1 births per woman in 1974 to 2.5 in 1998. This will sharply reduce the number of Mexicans turning 15 every year, from one million a year in the mid-1990s to 500,000 a year by 2010. Simultaneously, each one percent job growth adds 130,000 formal sector jobs to the 13 million formal sector workers, and a total 300,000 jobs to the 30 million paid workers. Current levels of job growth—about one million formal sector jobs a year were added in the late 1990s—should:
1. change the current relationship between formal and informal jobs—there are about 13 million workers in formal jobs and 26 million self-employed, unpaid, rural and other informal workers and;
2. absorb all new labor force entrants in formal jobs by 2005.
Continued economic growth would thus enable Mexico to reduce un-and underemployment.

The future of Mexico-US migration can be seen as a glass half-full or half-empty. The optimistic perspective, as discussed above, notes that the Mexican economy has recovered from the 1994-95 economic crisis-- economic growth was five percent in 1996, seven percent in 1997, five percent in 1998, and an expected four percent in 1999 and 2000.

Pessimists emphasize that economic and job growth is very uneven, with export-oriented manufacturing—which tends to hire young women--growing while agriculture shrinks and displaces men. Since these trends are linked to NAFTA, Douglas Massey, a demographer with long experience studying Mexican migration, concludes: "If the U.S. did not want Mexican immigrants, it should not have signed a treaty to promote the integration of the North American economy and the opening of Mexico to free trade." Moreover, unemployment remains high, and inequality is growing. The government has limited resources to tackle problems. Mexico's GDP was about $400 billion in 1998, but the government collected taxes equivalent to only 11 percent of GDP, and most of the taxes came from the regressive VAT tax. Mexico is providing support to some of the poorest Mexicans via Progresa, a program that was providing cash assistance to 2.6 million families in March 2000 if they sent their children to school and took them for regular health check ups.
West Central Mexico
West Central Mexico includes the seven Mexican states west and north of Mexico City; the region is anchored by Jalisco, a state with about six million residents, two thirds of whom live in Guadalajara. West Central Mexico has a long tradition of migration to the US, primarily because it was the closest area to the US reached by railroad.

Mexico-US migration has become an integral part of the socio-economic fabric in many rural areas in West Central Mexico. In some areas, 80 to 90 percent of the young men make at least one trip, usually as an unauthorized worker, to the US before they are 40. In many cases, families and villages have become transnational. Some individuals divide their time between the US and Mexico, some families have members living in both the US and Mexico, and some Mexican areas are linked to US areas by a steady stream of migrants and visitors and remittances.

The rural areas of states in West Central Mexico sent migrants to Mexico City and Guadalajara in the 1970s and early 1980s—rural youth used internal migration as a means of upward mobility. However, after 1982, there were no new formal sector jobs available to rural-urban migrants in Mexico City and Guadalajara (in Guadalajara, up to one-half of the jobs in shoe-making and sewing were lost in the late 1980s). Many youth leaving rural areas were redirected to Mexican border states to find jobs in maquiladoras or to the US, which had very rapid job growth after recovery from the early 1980s recession.

Fertility fell sharply in West Central Mexico in the late 1980s, and the smaller cohorts of youth seeking jobs should reduce emigration pressures after 2005. In fact, in Guadalajara and nearby cities, some employers complain of labor shortages despite paying more than the minimum wage of 35 pesos a day. For example, labor recruiters sent to highland areas to find peasant farmers willing to migrate to Sinaloa to pick tomatoes report increased difficulty finding migrants. However, employers of thousands of young and unskilled workers, including electronics assembly operations, also are reluctant to pay higher wages, so that it is hard to determine exactly how both demand and supply would respond to higher wages. Maquiladora employers seem to prefer to pay for buses to shuttle workers to and from villages up to 40 miles away rather than raise wages for operatives in Guadalajara. Wages for engineers and managers, on the other hand, seem to be rising much faster than for operatives, which tends to increase inequality.

But even those with higher wages find that expensive and limited credit makes it hard for them to benefit fully from increased income. For example, it is difficult to obtain mortgages to buy houses. Moreover, West Central Mexico offers jobs but little upward mobility to thousands of workers, regardless of their level of education.

Again, the situation can be seen as half-full or half-empty. Optimists believe that these jobs turn peasants into industrial workers and offer them regular paychecks that can improve their lives and generate economic multipliers. As such, they are a significant step on the road to making Mexico a developed economy. They point to the fact that exports are growing at 10 to 12 percent a year, faster than the 4 to 5 percent growth in the Mexican economy.

Pessimists argue that the wages paid in electronics and similar assembly operations do not give workers acceptable living standards, and that Mexico must stop being a supplier of low-wage labor to the US via migration and to the world market through maquiladoras. With labor the major or only asset of poor and unskilled workers, conditions in the labor market affect their well-being.
Migration and Development
The movement of people from one country to another affects the demography, economy, and society of both the emigration and immigration area. One of the major issues in emigration areas such as West Central Mexico is whether the 3-R's of recruitment, remittances, and returns is self-stopping, meaning that the 3-R's increase economic and job growth, or whether emigration sets in motion processes that sustain or increase more emigration. Most of the US-bound migrants from west central Mexico have low levels of education, few skills, and come from rural areas--characteristics that reflect the preferences of US farmers when they were recruiting Braceros.

Researchers are divided on whether economically motivated migration is self-stopping. Economic theory and the Great Atlantic migration of the 19th and early 20th centuries supports an optimistic scenario, as occurs when emigration sets in motion virtuous circles, reflected in rising wages. Remittances fuel economic activity in migrant areas of origin, and the return of migrants with new skills and attitudes sets the stage for an economic take off, creating jobs that make migration unnecessary. The alternative pessimistic scenario argues that emigration leads to vicious circles that help turn especially rural areas into nurseries and nursing homes, places filled with children and non-working adults, but drained of energetic young workers whose presence may make the area attractive to job-creating development.

In reality, migration has both self-stopping and perpetuating aspects. Remittances of almost $6.5 billion arrived to Mexico in 1998, including $1 billion to Jalisco, with most flowing to the rural areas that are home to most migrants. Western Union Financial Services Inc. and the MoneyGram Payment Systems subsidiary of Viad handle about $1 billion of these remittances, using ads that say "Send $300 to Mexico for $15." However, the real cost is about $45, including the lower exchange rate that the companies use to convert dollars into pesos. These hidden fees led to lawsuits that have been tentatively settled by the companies promising to disclose full costs and by increased competition and new channels through which remittances can be sent to Mexico, which should lower transactions costs.

Once in rural Mexico, remittances are generally spent, not saved. Spending on consumer goods as well as housing has multiplier effects; injecting $1 in remittances into a local economy can lead to $2 to $3 in economic activity, with the highest multipliers in rural areas, where remittances tend to be spent on locally produced goods. It is through the spending of remittances that households without migrants also benefit from exporting labor. With a multiplier of 3, the $6.5 billion in remittances to Mexico account for $20 billion of Mexico's $450 million GDP.

The part of remittances that are invested can be used to raise earnings and income over time. The local economy benefits when remittances lead to the creation of sewing factories in Zapotlanejo that produce goods for sale outside the area or are invested in improved cattle breeds that increase the production of milk and meat. It is sometimes said that behind every small business or moneylender in rural Mexico there is a US migrant and remittances.

Alternatively remittances can be spent simply to sustain migrant families, so that a constant infusion of outside money is required, as in retirement communities that depend on the spending of pensions earned elsewhere. Many researchers consider an area dependent on outside earnings—especially those earned by unauthorized workers in a foreign labor market--to be dangerous, since the inflow of funds could be stopped by enforcement abroad. Others oppose exporting people to earn funds to sustain an area's economy on other grounds; some describe Mexico-US migration as an "illness" or "syndrome" that undermines local development.

Remittances can sometimes lead to self-stopping development, and sometimes to dependence on an external labor market. The trick is to determine which factors put emigration areas on these different paths, and to develop ways to help put areas on the path they want to be on.

Policy can affect the impact of remittances. The Jalisco state government, for example, matches remittances that are invested in job-creating projects. The Jalisco state government contributed $500,000 to match such projects. Raza Express, a Mexico City-based money transfer company, also contributed $0.75 for each $300 sent to Mexico to the Jalisco development fund. The North American Development Bank, a binational bank created under the North American Free Trade Agreement, has pledged matching funds so that remittances can be steered into investments that are likely to be viable.

Many migrant investments are made with the help of hometown associations, Mexicans in the US who organize groups to help them invest abroad. My Community, which helps to pool remittance savings to finance development in Guanajuanto, claims success for getting 80 US-based migrants to invest $10 million in factories in their areas of origin, including several sewing factories, that employ 600 people in Ocampo, Guanajuanto. Program administrators believe that most of those currently employed in Mexico would be in the US without the local job creation program.
Case Studies
Migration from West Central Mexico to the US has been well studied, usually by researchers who went into communities that had a significant number or percentage of migrants and asked a sample of households to explain when and how each member migrated, thereby constructing migration histories. For example, the Mexican Migration Project collected migration histories on at least 200 households in over 40 communities, and learned that, on average, 80 percent of the men in these communities migrated to the US--legally or illegally—at least once before age 40. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the most typical "first US migration" involved a 32-year old married man with about five years of education and two minor children at home who went to the US for 4 to 8 months without his family.

However, more recent MMP interviews suggest that the profile of Mexico-US migration from West Central Mexico has been changing. While unauthorized males continue to migrate without their families to work temporarily in US agriculture, increasingly migrants go through both legal and illegal channels. Now, both men and women migrate, some with their entire families. More migrants are moving to such nontraditional US areas and industries as Nebraska meatpacking or construction in the Carolinas. As more Mexicans obtain legal status, they are also eligible to naturalize. Mexican law now permits dual nationality, making the decision to obtain US citizenship an easier one for immigrants. The political participation of Mexicans in the US has been increasing as more become citizens. At the same time, migration is occurring from new areas in Mexico. The new-new Mexico-US migrants tend to be like the old West Central Mexico migrants—solo unauthorized men, sometimes Indians with little Spanish--from agricultural areas who go to the US for farm jobs.

Beginning in 1994, the US changed its border control strategy, putting agents, lights and fences on the border to deter entries, rather than attempting to apprehend migrants in the US, under the Hold-the-Line, Gatekeeper, Safeguard, and Rio Grande labels. However, migrants seemed to continue to succeed in gaining unauthorized entry into the US, which has been explained by increased usage of smugglers. Instead of trying to slip across the border without professional smuggling assistance, more migrants turned to smugglers for assistance. The smugglers, using cell phones, decoys, false documents and other devices, managed to get migrants past stepped up controls. The costs of being smuggled into the US are rising, from less than $500 before the mid-1990s to $1000 or more by 2000.

The empirical evidence on Mexico-US migration flows suggests that unauthorized migration is continuing at high levels despite these new US border enforcement strategies. Mexican Migration Project researchers tend to be at one extreme of the evaluation of these new strategies, with demographer Doug Massey arguing that migration networks between west central Mexico and the US are so strong that Mexico-US migration is unstoppable with acceptable policies.

The research rationale for this pessimism rests on the human capital and social capital that has accumulated in the networks bridging the Mexico-US border. Human capital refers to the confidence that comes from having been to the US illegally; social capital refers to information embedded in the links between potential migrants and friends and relatives already abroad. Human and social capital thus lead to more migration in a process of "cumulative causation"--information increases and costs decrease, and migration increases in snowball fashion.

Other researchers dispute the view that Mexico-US migration cannot be stopped. Migration equilibria have been reached in many migration relationships, contrary to the predictions of cumulative causation models, including internal south-north migration within the US, migration between Puerto Rico and the mainland US, and between Italy and Germany in the late 1960s. Within Mexico, the momentum of networks should have kept internal migrants moving to Mexico City in the 1990s, but instead, there was migration out of Mexico City, and many internal migrants moved to secondary cities within Mexico.

There are important and perhaps irreversible changes in the Mexican countryside that make movement out of agriculture more likely. Environmental degradation and loss of forests make it less likely that, if farmers acquired the education, seeds, and capital to change to crops that could be profitably produced for the world market, farmers would remain employed in the area to take advantage of the opportunity. Debts rose sharply in Mexican agriculture with the optimism of the early 1990s, but many farmers found it impossible to pay them off after the mid-1990s recession. Some environmental experts argue, however, that the cost of reclaiming land from desertification and making it productive for profitable agricultural activities is modest compared to the cost of heightened unemployment with its migration ramifications. U.S. expertise in land use policies and techniques could be useful in helping to reduce emigration pressures caused by environmental degradation.
Field Trip

La Joya is typical of emigration villages in West Central Mexico, with fewer than 1000 residents and a long tradition of migration to the US. Agriculture is the major industry, with most farmers growing corn and beans to feed themselves and to feed cattle—dairying is a major local industry. Corn is a major industry in Mexico, employing about 23 million people, mostly on family milpas, or small farms. The US produces far more corn than Mexico, and at much lower costs. Since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, imports of US corn have increased, to 5.6 million tons in 1999, or 25 percent of Mexican corn consumption. As corn imports rise, Mexican farmers abandon corn farming—about 50,000 of the 250,000 corn farmers in the Mexican state of Guanajuato abandoned farming between 1990 and 1999.

There is an elementary school in La Joya, as well as a telesecondaria, through which children in grades 7-9 are educated via nationally televised programs. Theft seems to be a problem, however. One set of TVs had already been stolen from the school but had been replaced. The telesecondario in La Joya has three classrooms for about 50 students, who range in age from 12 to 15. Significantly,
* only about half of the local children completed 9th grade, even though schooling to age 15 is compulsory, and
* very few of the 9th graders planned to continue their education, even though there were several 10-12 grade preparatorias (US high schools) in the area.
Reasons for not continuing education included the cost and time needed to travel to school as well as books. Lost income appeared to be a consideration in a family's decision to keep children in school or have them work full-time. Many of the children expected to earn 500 to 800 pesos a week--$55 to $85—working in area garment shops or milking cows. Almost all of them already work part-time in family enterprises.

The impression from La Joya is that a generation of rural children is not being educated for the Mexican or the US labor markets, even though many of the children did not expect to remain in La Joya. Almost all of the children had relatives who were in the US. There seemed to be remarkably little learning going on in the classrooms, with children admitting that it was boring watching TV programs when there seemed to be little connection between the lessons and how they expected to spend their lives. While almost all of the boys, and some of the girls, expected to go to the United States for jobs, some students said they would work in nearby towns after graduation. None mentioned Guadalajara or other large Mexican cities as likely destinations, even though, as discussed below, Guadalajara employers site labor shortages.

The site visits included sources of employment opportunities in three Jalisco cities. Tepatitlan is a city of about 50,000 about one hour east of Guadalajara. The city's economy is based on processing farm commodities, including tequila that is exported from the region. Mexican tequila—which is produced from agave grown in Jalisco-- is sold under 300 labels; production has doubled since 1995. It requires 7 to 10 years for agave plants to mature enough to be harvested, and the increased demand for tequila has helped to sharply increase the price for agave. Stems are removed from the agave before the pineapple-shaped fruit is cut into quarters and cooked for 24 hours in stone or industrial ovens. The result is fermented for three days, with the heart used to make tequila that is 55 percent alcohol. Water is added to reduce the alcohol content to 42 percent.

Tequila used to be a drink for the masses, but in the 1970s and 1980s became popular with the Mexican elite and consumers overseas, especially in the US. There were about 35,000 Mexicans employed directly in tequila production in Mexico in 1999, and an estimated 300,000 indirectly dependent on tequila production and distribution. Tequila San Matias employs about 60 employees in distilling and 35 to bottle tequila. About half of the aguava used by Tequila San Matias is grown on company-owned land, and half is grown by farmers who receive the plants from Tequila San Matias and who follow company growing guidelines.

The employees of Tequila San Matias, like many other firms in West Central Mexico, sometimes leave for the US, attracted to the higher wages paid for seasonal work in the United States. One employee estimated that workers could earn as much in three months in the US as they could during an entire year at the tequila distillery. Tequila San Matias is trying to reduce such periodic migrations, no longer holding jobs open for those who migrate for several months each year to the US. Tequila San Matias would like to keep its workers oriented to Mexico.

Zapotlanejo is a small city about 30 minutes east of Guadalajara with a thriving sewing industry. Clothing is made primarily for the Mexican market, and is sold to wholesalers as well as retail customers. A visit to a local garment factory revealed what appeared to be a model enterprise with well-maintained facilities, good lighting and good ventilation. The workers included a mix of men and women, with a surprising number of men operating sewing machines. Workers were paid by the piece, and the owner claimed that most received well above the Mexican minimum wage.

The owner had borrowed financing prior to the 1994 devaluation. The loan had to be repaid in US dollars, making repayment very difficult for him. When asked what types of changes would stimulate economic development in places like Zapotlanejo, he cited three issues: fiscal reform to avoid future devaluations and to create a more secure and stable banking system; reform of the social security system, which provides few services relative to its high cost in taxes; and reduction in official corruption that adds to the cost of doing business.

Guadalajara, a city of 3.3 million, has emerged as an important place for assembling electronics and computers—the city is sometimes called Silicon Valley de Mexico. Since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, foreign firms have invested several billion dollars to construct factories that assemble electronics components. The electronics industry in 2000 employed 60,000 to 80,000 workers in Guadalajara, up from 5,000 in 1995, and is expected to export $10-$11 billion worth of finished computers, printers, and other goods, usually to the US, 400 miles north. As development and production times shrink in the electronics industry, more firms are deciding to assemble products closer to US customers, which favors Guadalajara and Mexico over Asia despite Asia's lower wages.

Foreign-owned firms that hire Mexican workers to assemble electronics for the export market are an example of maquiladoras, plants first created in 1965 to provide jobs financed with US capital for workers who were no longer permitted to work legally on US farms. Maquiladoras import foreign-made components duty free, assemble them into cars, televisions, or computers, and then generally export the finished goods—duty is paid only on the value-added in Mexico as the finished goods return to the US, which is typically less than 20 percent of the good's value.

Maquiladoras never had their intended effect of creating jobs in Mexican border areas for several hundred thousand ex-Bracero men. There were only 12 maquiladoras employing 3,000 mostly young women in 1965, and maquiladoras remained a relatively small part of the Mexican economy and labor market until the mid-1980s—in 1985, there were about 800 maquiladoras employing 212,000 workers. However, since then, maquiladora employment has surged, to 3,333 maquiladoras with 1.1 million employees in August 1999-- maquiladora employment is expected to increase at a rate of 125,000 jobs a year.

Almost 80 percent of maquiladoras are in the Mexican states bordering the US--25 percent of maquiladora employment is in Chihuahua (Juarez) and 20 percent is in Baja California (Tijuana). Maquiladora wages fell about 11 percent in real terms between 1994 and 1998, and have not yet recovered. The minimum wage was increased to an average 35 pesos or $3.50 a day on January 1, 2000—there are three minimum wages in Mexico.

NatSteel Electronics is a Singapore-based contract electronics manufacturer (CEM), that is, a firm that assembles the components for US electronics firms into finished produces. NatSteel in 1996 became the second CEM in Guadalajara (SCI was first); NatSteel has a total of 10,200 workers around the world, including 1,758 in Guadalajara. Most of the Guadalajara employees are direct hires. Workers must have good eyesight, because of the detailed assembly work, and show a willingness to show up every day for a 6am-2pm or 2pm-10pm shift. They do not need to have completed any particular level of schooling. About 70 percent of the direct hires are women.

Most maquiladora employees are formally employed by employment agencies, thus freeing multinational firms from most labor-related commitments.

NatSteel complained of labor shortages, but also noted that NatSteel met regularly with the 32-other electronics assembly operations in the area to discuss wages. NatSteel reported that the consensus of the human resource managers was that raising wages would only spark competition for the limited pool of available workers and would not bring new people into the labor force. NatSteel says that its operatives earned about 450 pesos or about $45 for a 45-hour week, and total costs, which include wages, social security and other taxes, and lunch and bus transportation to and from work, were $2 an hour.
Mexico-US Cooperation
Mexico and the United States share one of the longest land borders in the world, some 1950 miles. There has been Mexican migration into the US throughout the 20th century, and this migration has often been the source of conflict between the two governments. During the years when Mexico-US labor migration was regulated, as during the Bracero periods of 1971-21 and 1942-64, there were conflicts over the rights of Mexican workers in the US and the (in)ability of the US government to persuade US employers to abide by the contracts that they signed with Mexican workers.

The US and Mexico have usually acted unilaterally and in a reactive manner when making policies that dealt with Mexico-US migration. As apprehensions of unauthorized migrants grew in the 1970s, the US Congress debated proposals to reduce such entries. A consensus on the optimal US strategy to deal with unauthorized Mexico-US migration emerged by the early 1980s. The US strategy had two parts: fines or sanctions on US employers to discourage them from hiring unauthorized migrants, which in turn would discourage migrants from coming to the US; and an amnesty or legalization program for those unauthorized aliens who had established roots in the US by living in the US at least several years.

The US sanctions/legalization package was enacted into law as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The legalization program worked well—too well in the case of the Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) program—but stepped up border controls and employer sanctions failed to stop the entry and employment of unauthorized migrants. As a result, legal and unauthorized Mexico-US migration surged in the early 1990s, when the US and especially California experienced a recession, setting the stage for the back lash exemplified by the approval of Proposition 187 in 1994 on a 59-41 percent vote. Although some of Proposition 187 was declared unconstitutional by federal courts, many of Prop 187's provisions restricting the access of unauthorized aliens to welfare and other tax-supported benefits were enacted into law in 1996. Mexico reacted to what it perceived as growing anti-Mexican sentiment by amending its constitution so that, beginning March 20, 1998, Mexican citizens who naturalize in the US or elsewhere will generally retain Mexican nationality.

The main issue on the US-Mexico bilateral agenda continues to be unauthorized migration. Mexico believes that continued unauthorized Mexico-US migration occurs because of demand-pull factors, and that the employment of Mexican workers in the US primarily benefits the US. Furthermore, Mexican officials believe that US immigration policy changes in 1996 were primarily aimed at making Mexican and other migrants more useful in the US labor market by reducing access to social welfare benefits. Mexican leaders would like a guest worker program, with the Mexican and US governments negotiating a bilateral arrangement under which Mexicans could work legally in the US. As legal workers, they would have more rights within the labor force.

The US has mostly unilateral guest worker programs, which means that once a US employer demonstrates a need for foreign workers, the migrants can be recruited anywhere. President Clinton announced his strong opposition to a new guest worker program for unskilled Mexican workers in 1995, saying "I oppose efforts in Congress to institute a new guest worker or "bracero" program that seeks to bring thousands of foreign workers into the United States to provide temporary farm labor." The US is concerned that, if unauthorized migration is not under control, a guest worker program could add to rather than substitute for unauthorized migration. There are also concerns about some sectors of the US economy becoming dependent on migrant workers, so that they fail to look to the US labor market or technology for alternatives to migrants. Agricultural growers strongly support a guest worker program, and proposals for such programs continue to be made in Congress.

With Mexicans pulled into the US by jobs, and the US restricting their access to welfare and other benefits, Mexico sees its primary role as protecting the human rights of Mexican migrants. Mexico frequently laments the deaths of migrants attempting illegal entry in the desert, 390 in 1998 and 350 in 1999. Mexico has dramatically increased its appreciation for and services to migrants abroad. There are 42 Mexican consulates in the US, the most that any country has in another. Mexican leaders have changed their view of migrants, shifting from seeing them as disloyal for leaving to regarding them as the most ambitious, whose remittances are needed to spur development in Mexico. The Mexican government has encouraged the development of hometown associations that maintain links and remittance flows between migrants in the US and their areas of origin.

Despite differences in perspective, there have been significant improvements in Mexico-US cooperation on migration issues. Mexico and the US cooperated on a Binational Study of Mexico-US migration which led a group of 20 Mexican and US researchers to agree on many dimensions of migration. The US and Mexico have annual bilateral consultations on migration issues as well as multilateral consultations under the Regional Conference on Migration or Puebla Process, which involves Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States. The first meeting of the group was held in Puebla, Mexico in 1996, and the Puebla process has become a model for promoting regional cooperation on migration issues, with a web site at:

Mexico and the US are actively cooperating to reduce crime along the border, to prevent the transit through Mexico to the US of non-Mexicans, and to curb smuggling. Simultaneously, Mexico and the US have cooperated to facilitate legitimate border crossings, establishing commuter lanes.

European Comparisons
European nations are seeking ways to cooperate with emigration and transit nations to the east and south. There are two major approaches. Countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are on a fast track for EU membership. They are modifying their laws and increasing their expenditures on border controls so that they become satisfactory external border controls for the entire Schengen area. Once admitted to one Schengen member country, there are no more regular immigration inspections.

This cooperation has been enhanced, in the case of Germany and Poland, by joint German-Polish border patrols on the German-Polish border to prevent unauthorized transit migration. Poles can enter Germany without visas, and seasonal worker programs permit some Poles to work legally in Germany—in this case, Poles keep their regular job in Poland and work only a few months legally in Germany. Some 120,000 Polish cars cross the Polish-German border every day, and many of these "commuters" are believed to take low-level jobs in Berlin.

Europeans also give large amounts of foreign aid to candidate countries, improving the infrastructure and thereby attracting private investments that create jobs in industries that anticipate eventual freedom to ship goods to other EU nations. EU entry required southern European nations to develop unemployment insurance and pension systems, so that when freedom of movement came, typically 7 years after official entry, wage gaps had narrowed to 4 or 5 to one. The rate of wage growth and the proliferation of job opportunities encouraged most Spaniards, for example, not to migrate after they could do so in 1992.

EU policies toward Africa are more problematic, marked by differences that prevent agreement and agreements that are not implemented. Some Europeans believe that African emigration countries could be persuaded to cooperate more fully--for example, accepting the return of their nationals that EU countries want to remove--if EU nations implemented additional seasonal worker programs. Many North African countries see emigration as a safety valve for high unemployment and they would be more willing to cooperate in migration management if they saw some tangible economic benefits for their nationals.

In the Balkans, cooperation with emigration and transit countries to manage migration is also more difficult, given repeated conflict and economic and political instability. Yet, migration is a major issue. About 10 percent of the 3.5 million Albanian-born persons are abroad, mostly in Greece and Italy. Many of the Albanian emigrants left in the first three years after the fall of communism, between 1990 and 1993, and emigration resumed in early 1997, after several pyramid financial schemes collapsed, with most Albanians headed for Italy. Albania, in turn, experienced massive in-migration when 450,000 Kosovars fled or were forced to move there in mid-1999.

Italy is struggling to develop an immigration policy to deal with Albanians and other immigrants. There were about 1.5 million legal foreigners in Italy at the end of 1999, including 174,000 Moroccans and 138,000 Albanians. Albania and Italy have taken several steps to cooperatively manage migration. For example, Italian coast guard ships patrol Albanian waters, and have the authority to stop Albanian boats that appear to be taking migrants to Italy-- the US Coast Guard has similar authority in the Caribbean. The Italian regularization programs benefit Albanians, giving some legal status and thus sustaining remittances.

In 2000, migrant smuggling activities have become a pillar of the Albanian economy, especially in the port city of Vllore. The opportunity to earn high profits in an otherwise stagnant economy helps to drain away initiative and energy that could flow into legitimate economic activities. Italy is seeking support for a multilateral and EU-wide burden-sharing approach that would combine aid and assistance to Albania and other source countries to reduce emigration pressures with assistance to frontline countries such as Italy that experience mass influxes.

Emigration and Development:
Focus on West Central Mexico
April 6-8, 2000
Meeting and Lodging:
Camino Real Guadalajara
Av. Vallarta No. 5005
Tel (52-3) 121-8000
Fax.: (52-3) 121-8070

Sponsored by:
Migration Dialogue
in cooperation with
Ciesas Occidente
and with the support of
the German Marshall Fund of the United States
and the Summit and Compton Foundations

The purpose of Migration Dialogue is to provide a setting for 40 opinion leaders to learn about and discuss the major issues facing migrant sending, transit and receiving countries in the 21st century. About half of the participants are from Europe; half are from North America. Seminars are held in places that allow participants during a day-long field trip to discuss with migrants, employers and local leaders day-to-day and longer-term migration issues. Reports of past seminars are available: //
Wednesday, April 5, 2000 Arrival Day
7PM Welcome reception, Lafayette Garden, Camino Real
8PM Dinner, Camino Real
Thursday, April 6, 2000
7-9AM Breakfast buffet La Huerta, Camino Real

9AM Meeting in Galleria
Welcome and Introductions: Philip Martin, University of California/Davis
9:30AM Population, Migration, and Development
Speakers: (30 min) Agustin Escobar Latapi, Ciesas Occidente,
Discussants: (10 min) Ed Taylor, US

1. There are about 108 million persons alive today who were born in Mexico; about eight million Mexican-born persons live in the US, and half arrived in the 1990s. About 250,000 to 350,000 Mexicans migrate to settle in the US each year. Mexico's population grows by about 1.5 million a year; emigration is equivalent to about 20 percent of annual population growth. When can reduced fertility and job creation be expected to reduce Mexico-US migration? As southern Mexican states begin to experience significant outmigration, what are appropriate policy responses?
2. What are the variables that influence individual and household migration decisions, such as the decision of a family to send a young woman to work at a Mexican maquiladoras and a young man to the US to do farm work? Which of these variables are most susceptible to policy intervention and over what time period would the effects of policy changes likely be felt?
3. Many Mexico-US migrants come from rural areas. What agricultural and environmental pressures encourage emigration? What policies could reduce or reverse these migration pressures and over what time period?
4. Western Europe faces migration pressures from both low fertility Eastern Europe as well as fast-growing North Africa. What have the EU and individual European countries done to deal with these migration pressures? How effective are these policies?

10:30AM Break

10:45AM Migrant Numbers, Characteristics, Remittances and Returns
Speakers: (20 min each) Jorge Durand, Universidad de Guadalajara and Rene Zenteno, TEC-Monterrey
Discussants: (8 min each) Lindsay Lowell, US, and Elmar Honekopp, Germany

1. How have migration networks evolved in west central Mexico, for example, what is the probability that a young man or woman from a migration area makes a legal or illegal trip by age 40? How did these probabilities of migrating to the US change in the 1990s?
2. Migration begets more migration, as relatives settled in the US unify their families, and anchor migrants provide information and financing for unauthorized new arrivals. How are migration patterns affected by the interaction between migration costs lowered by established networks compared to stepped-up US enforcement that makes it more difficult and costly to enter the US illegally?
3. Most Mexicans migrate to the US for economic reasons—they remit $5 to $6 billion a year to their families, typically sending home about $300 at a cost of $30. What are the effects of remittances on job creation in the migrants' areas of origin? What are the policies of state governments to increase the job creation effects of remittances and how effective have they been?
4. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)— aimed at lowering investment and trade barriers between Canada, Mexico and the United States--went into effect January 1, 1994. NAFTA was expected to speed-up economic and job growth in Mexico, and thus decrease emigration—has it?
5. Membership in the EU includes four freedoms— for goods, capital, services and workers. What has been the European experience with integration and migration, and what does this experience portend to EU enlargement?
1PM Lunch at Camino Real

2:30PM Case Studies of Mexico-US Migration, Chair: Agustin Escobar
Speakers (12 minutes each): Magdalena Villarreal, Mercedes González, Gerardo Bernache, Alejandre Arroyo, Mexico; Michelle Leighton, US

1. How did migration from a particular village evolve? What were the major variables that encouraged the first migrants to leave for the US, for example, Bracero recruitment, medical emergencies and debt, crop failure etc? What factors encourage experienced migrants to return to the US?
2. In some emigration areas, half of the persons born in a village have moved to the US. How do migrants keep in touch with their villages of origin? What are the major variables that determine whether a migrant who has settled in the US returns to the village of origin?
3. In many cases, men migrate at least initially without their families? How does the absence of men affect family and community life, and the attractiveness of the village and area to job-creating investors?
4. The decision to migrate is influenced by demographic, economic and environmental factors. How do the three R's—recruitment, remittances, and returns—affect these initial conditions, i.e., do they set in motion processes that reduce or increase migration over time?
5. The United States experienced a "Great Migration" between 1945 and 1970—an average one million persons a year moved from rural to urban areas, such as from Mississippi to Chicago. Mexico may be experiencing its Great Migration—there have been projections that one million Mexicans a year will leave the land for a decade or more. What policies might affect Mexico's Great Migration?

4PM Break
4:15PM Discussion
5PM Adjourn
6PM Depart in taxis for downtown Guadalajara
6:30PM Tour Instituto Cultural Cabañas [has fresco El Hombre de Fuego (Man of Fire) by Jose Clemente Orozoco] tel 617-4440
8PM Dinner, La Fonda de San Miguel (El Convento), Donato Guerra 25-13, tel 613-0809, fax 613-0793/0802

Friday, April 7 Field Trip (Agustin Escobar's cell phone: 044-3105-2403)
7:00 –8:00 AM Breakfast buffet La Huerta, Camino Real

8AM Depart hotel for PATE, or Procesadora de Aves de Tepatitlán and AVIBEL, poultry and egg processing firms and about one hour from Guadalajara. Discuss worker recruitment and retention in an industry which also attracts Mexican migrants in the US. L.A.F. Miguel Loza Navarro, Porcicultores 50A, Tepatitlán, (378) 231-66, 231-64.
Alternative. Tequila San Matías. Carmen Villarreal Treviño. Tel. (3) 615-0421

10AM Depart for the village of La Joya, visit school, Telesecundaria Benito Juárez García in which students are taught by television with local teacher support. Mtro. Moisés Jiménez. Tel 3-643-9262

11AM Depart for Zapotlanejo, small city with a sewing industry launched with the help of migrant remittances. Dr. Martín González Jiménez, Presidente Municipal, Zapotlanejo, Tels (373) 40096, 40002, 41024. Tour La Espuela de Oro (Golden Spur), Sapoxil 10, corner of Reforma at 12pm. Héctor Alvarez. Tel (373) 4-26-36, 4-0764

2:30PM Depart for electronics assembly in Jalisco, possible stop at Guadalajara bus station en route, where many migrants set out for the US.

4PM Depart for Camino Real hotel

7:30-10PM Depart Camino Real for Reception and Dinner. Rodolfo López, Ing.
Saturday, April 8
7-9:00AM Breakfast buffet La Huerta, Camino Real

9-10:00 AM Migrant Programs and Emigration in the State of Jalisco, Governor Alberto Cárdenas Jiménez (Meeting room: Galleria)
10-10:15 AM Break
10:15-12:00 PM Prospects for Mexico-US Cooperation
Chair: Michael Teitelbaum, Sloan Foundation,
Speakers (10-15 minutes each) Jose Pescador Osuna, Population and Migrant Services; Susan Martin, ISIM; Patrick Weil, France; Ferruccio Pastore, Italy.

1. Mexico has made major changes in its economic and migration-related policies over the past 15 years, including signing NAFTA, permitting and encouraging dual nationality, and making the protection of the human rights of Mexican migrants abroad a top priority. What has been the effect of these initiatives?
2. The US enacted legislation in 1986 and 1996 that aimed to reduce unauthorized Mexico-US migration—major features that affected Mexico-US migration were legalization and sanctions, followed by restrictions on welfare assistance and a sharp increase in border control efforts. How effective has this legislation been from US and Mexican perspectives?
3. Mexico and the US have developed a number of bilateral and regional forums in which migration issues are discussed. How have these discussions affected attitudes and cooperation between Mexico and the US on migration management? What are the lessons of the Mexico-US migration experience for other areas?
4. Many Mexicans urge the US to engage in bilateral negotiations that aim to improve migration management. What would be the elements of such negotiations and how would management policies deal with short-, medium- and long-term factors that affect migration?
5. What are the major bilateral and regional forums in which European countries discuss migration issues with sending nations, how have they evolved over time and what are their primary accomplishments so far?
12:00 AM Discussion
12:30 PM Adjourn

1-5PM Optional trip and lunch with Ciesas Occidente students to Tlaquepaque, a Guadalajara suburb famous for pottery and crafts and a visit to a suburb with many recent rural-urban migrants.
7PM Depart Camino Real for informal dinner at the home of Agustín Escobar, Valle de Santiago 105, El Palomar, Guadalajara, tel (3) 684-1151