Are Mexicans Europeans 1

Country Profiles Migration: Data - History - Politics

David Fitzgerald

To person

David Fitzgerald is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Field Research at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Mexico is affected by immigration and transmigration - especially from Central America to the USA - as well as emigration, mostly to the USA. During the past century, emigration was greatest, but all three forms of migration have left their mark.

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Historical development


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mexico, like many other countries in the Western Hemisphere, attracted immigrants from Europe. However, due to the political instability of Mexico and more attractive alternatives in the US, Argentina and Canada, few immigrants came from across the ocean. Just half a percent of European emigrants in the late 19th century settled in Mexico.




Capital: Mexico City
Languages: Spanish
Surface: 1,972,550 km2
Population (2007): 108.7 million (CIA Factbook)
Population density (2005): 54.5 inhabitants per km2
Population growth (2006): 0.89% (OECD)
Working population (2007): 42% (CIA Factbook)
Share of the foreign population (2000): 0.5% (INEGI)
Unemployment rate (2007): 3.7% (CIA Factbook)
Religions (2000): Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6.3%, no answer 13.8%, other / none 3.4% (INEGI)
After failing to recruit Europeans, the country sought out Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. However, when the US closed its borders to non-European immigrants in the 1920s, Mexico followed suit, restricting entry to immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. This happened in the course of a racist counter-movement against the post-revolutionary vision of Mexico as a mestizo nation, emerging from Spaniards and indigenous people. The proportion of the foreign-born Mexican population grew from 0.4% in 1900 to 1% in 1930, but has since declined steadily to 0.5% in 2000.


Conquest in the 19th century
Migration from Mexico to the United States "currently represents the largest sustained flow of migrant workers in the world". [1] Mexico shares a 3,200-kilometer border with the United States. Such a long border can hardly be controlled continuously and thus offers numerous loopholes that favor massive Mexican migration. However, only a few migrants come from the border region; most come from states hundreds of kilometers south. Around 2,300 kilometers of motorway extend between the city of Tijuana on the northwestern border with California and Guadalajara in the heart of the main emigration region in the western highlands of Mexico.

Military and economic interventions as well as direct recruitment from the USA, but also unrest in Mexico, have been the triggering factors for emigration to the USA in the past.

With the secession from Texas in 1836 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago of 1848, which ended a two-year war between the United States and Mexico, Mexico lost more than half of its territory. Around 80,000 Mexicans lived in the northern areas at that time. As the immigrants of the time aptly put it, they did not cross the border, they crossed the border.

Most Mexicans in the US did not immigrate until the 20th century or are descendants of immigrants from this period. Demographic research suggests that without immigration from Mexico, the US population of Mexican descent would only be about 14% of its current size during the 20th century. [2]