Previous Migration Experience and Legal Immigration Status among Mexican Immigrants: Impacts on Social Security

Peter Brownell, RAND Corporation
Michael S. Rendall, University of Maryland

We examine the size and composition of flows of Mexican migrants intending to cross the border and enter the United States, focusing on immigration status and prior US migration history. Using data from the Survey of Migration at the Northern Border of Mexico (EMIF-Norte), an innovative Mexican survey of migration flows, we find that the declining overall level of migration since the onset of the recession in 2007 is driven entirely by declines in undocumented immigration. The size of the legal flow has actually increased. We find an overall shift away from migrants with no previous US trips, toward migrants with 11+ trips. Among work-authorized migrants, the representation of both first time migrants and those with 11+ previous trips grew. The increasing share and number of work-authorized Mexican immigrants with 11+ US trips seems likely to affect the share of Mexican immigrants qualifying for Social Security benefits in the future.

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Presented in Session 16: Immigration and Population Change: Implications for Business and Government