Pennsylvania-Residing Mexicans Plan Homeland Retirement
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Many Mexicans who plop themselves down in the United States cannot properly be called “immigrants” (either legal or illegal) because many come entirely for the money, not to stay and become Americans. One example: only 21 percent of Latinos polled by Pew Hispanic self-identified as Americans.

Merriman-Webster defines “immigrant” as “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.” Long-term visitors don’t fall under that category.

Nothing shows the disdain of many Mexicans for this country more than their plans to retire to Mexico. Ricardo Sandoval (currently residing in Reading PA) remarked in Spanish, “Everyone I know wants to retire in their home” — meaning Mexico. He has lived in the United States for 30 years and is a US citizen, but to him, “home” is not America. (The numbers suggest Sandoval might have been a beneficiary of the 1986 Reagan Amnesty.)

Sandoval and others like him are temp workers, whose loyalty resides with their nation of birth, period. They come, scrape up maximum dollars and then leave. Why does Washington continue to invest in them with education, business loans etc. as if they were becoming Americans?

The assimilation engine is broken when newbies no longer have to learn English or adopt American values to get along, even though the majority of citizens expect cultural accommodation. Furthermore, the presence of millions of other Mexicans means they can live among their tribe in balkanized communities, listen to Spanish-language media and nearly forget they are in the United States — except for the all-important dollars, of course.

But hey, happy trails to all self-deporting Mexicans!

Immigrants dream of return to Mexico: Several in Berks echo national trend, Reading Eagle, May 21, 2012

Mexican immigration into the United States is slowing, and some Berks County Latinos say one reason is that older Mexicans are retiring to their home country.

When Roberto Sandoval, 54, nears retirement age, he isn’t going to get a house in Florida. Instead, he plans to return to his native Mexico, the Reading store owner said.

“Everyone I know wants to retire in their home,” Sandoval said in Spanish. “The life there in Mexico is more peaceful.”

In the previous four decades, 12 million immigrants from Mexico entered the United States. But today the net migration flow – the number entering the U.S. minus the number leaving – is zero or below, according to an April report by the Pew Hispanic Center, a national independent research center.

The report cites a slow U.S. job market and heightened border enforcement as reasons why immigration is reversing. A rise in deportations and a decline in Mexican birth rates are among other factors.

Sandoval, who owns El Jalisco Mexican grocery store on Green Street in Reading, said he watches every day as elderly people try to cross the street and are almost hit by speeding cars.

“That’s not for me,” he said. “I want to go home to my country.”

As of 2011, there were 6.1 million undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the U.S., down from a peak of 7 million in 2007, the Pew report stated.

The population of authorized immigrants from Mexico rose modestly over the same period, from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2011.

In Berks County, a large influx of Mexican immigrants came in the 1980s to work in the mushroom industry, and those numbers continued to increase. The 2010 Census revealed 10,890 people of Mexican origin living in Berks County, compared with 6,562 in 2000. Among Latinos, only Puerto Ricans had greater numbers in Berks County in 2010, according to census figures. 

Bucking the trend

It’s hard to say, however, whether Berks is following the recent trend of declining Mexican immigration because official 2011 numbers regarding local Latinos’ origins have not been released.

The number of Latinos in Berks has almost doubled since 2000, from 36,357 to 69,515 as of July 1, 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.

But most of that increase was due to a rise in the number of Puerto Ricans (from 22,038 to 36,333) and those from the Dominican Republic (from 1,855 to 10,545).

Michael Toledo, executive director of the Daniel Torres Hispanic Center, said the number of Mexican immigrants in Reading is still high, but that could change as jobs leave the area or begin to require higher skill levels.

Toledo said he can see several reasons for a decline in Mexican immigration, including the economy and federal policies that make it more difficult for immigrants to enter.

“The federal policy as it relates to immigration makes them give it a second thought whether or not it’s advantageous to find a quality of life here,” Toledo said. “And they’re seeing job prospects of years past are not as plentiful.”

Less to celebrate

Maria Tinoco, who came to Reading from Mexico as a little girl, said she remembers when the Mexican community was more vibrant in the city. She recalled dancing at city churches in a folkloric dance troupe on Cinco de Mayo, the May 5 celebration of Mexican pride and heritage.

But this year, Tinoco said, she had trouble finding Cinco de Mayo events to attend.

“It was kind of sad,” she said.

Tinoco, who works in the admissions office at Penn State Berks, thinks the Mexican population is leaving because of a lack of jobs.

“There’s definitely a big uneasiness in terms of employment in the area,” she said.

Heightened border enforcement, as cited in the Pew report, could be one of the main reasons for the reversal in population trends. Nearly 51 percent of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented, but in 2010 about 282,000 undocumented Mexicans were either deported or denied entry to the United States.

Sandoval, who is a U.S. citizen, said the regulations for becoming a citizen – or even entering the United States – have become more strict since he arrived 30 years ago.

Stricter searches and more regulations make it difficult for immigrants, legally or not, to cross the border, he said.

“Before, it was easy to get in,” Sandoval said. “Anybody could come.”

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