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The mathematics of Mexico–US migration and US immigration policy

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This article analyses some of the ‘numbers’ behind the migration phenomenon and immigration policy design in the USA. The principal aim of this study is to assess the use of quantitative data and analyses, migration statistics and the mass media to support the passage (or justify the failure) of recent key initiatives that affect undocumented or illegal immigration in the USA, in particular immigration originating in Mexico. The study concludes that the misuse of numbers, the production of media spectacles that present illegal immigrants as quite harmful for the US economy and society, and the politicisation of the immigration process in general, have had a major impact on recent failed attempts to reform the dysfunctional US immigration system. These factors also influenced the passage of Arizona's SB 1070 in 2010, as well as the recent passage of other anti-immigrant legislation in more US states. Overall, the ‘mathematics’ of Mexico–US migration is not always reliable. Some questionable numbers have been recently used to justify inappropriate and ineffective migration policies.
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Keywords: US immigration policy; immigration reform; mathematics; media spectacle; numbers; undocumented/illegal immigration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Government Department,The University of Texas at Brownsville, 80 Fort Brown, MRCS Room 279Brownsville,TX,78520, USA 2: Mathematics Department,University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras CampusSan Juan,PR,00936, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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