Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers

Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University professor, has closely studied Mexican immigrants and comes up with energetic, constructive interpretations of worker migration into the United. States. I will summarise several of his books. He also wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Monday. One of his most intensely argued points is that border security-alone advocates hugely misperceive what the Mexican worker migration is all about. Massey’s broad view puts our immigration issues in the context of 160 million immigrants troughout the world.
Crossing the Border (2004) (co-editor)
The full title: “Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project” (2004). Per the review in Amazon, the book draws from “the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available”. It is a myth-breaking book:


The migrants are not driven by primarily impoverishment; they do not intend to settle here permanently; their remittances back are made in part to compensate for the poor banking system in Mexico; most Mexican farm workers pay their fair share in U.S. taxes and—despite high rates of eligibility—rarely utilize welfare programs; strict barriers at popular border crossings have not kept migrants from entering the United States, but rather have prompted them to seek out other crossing points, which are often more hazardous to traverse; the militarization of the Mexican border has actually kept immigrants who want to return to Mexico from doing so by making them fear that if they leave they will not be able to get back into the United States.
Backfire at the Border (2005) co-author
The summary of the book from the publisher, the Cato Institute, reads in part: For the past two decades, the U.S. government has pursued a contradictory policy on North American integration. While the U.S. government has pursued more commercial integration through the North American Free Trade Agreement, it has sought to unilaterally curb the flow of labor across the U.S.-Mexican border. That policy has not only failed to reduce illegal immigration; it has actually made the problem worse.
Increased border enforcement has only succeeded in pushing immigration flows into more remote regions. That has resulted in a tripling of the death rate at the border and, at the same time, a dramatic fall in the rate of apprehension. As a result, the cost to U.S. taxpayers of making one arrest along the border increased from $300 in 1992 to $1,700 in 2002, an increase of 467 percent in just a decade.
Enforcement has driven up the cost of crossing the border illegally, but that has had the unintended consequence of encouraging illegal immigrants to stay longer in the United States to recoup the cost of entry. The result is that illegal immigrants are less likely to return to their home country, causing an increase in the number of illegal immigrants remaining in the United States. Whatever one thinks about the goal of reducing migration from Mexico, U.S. policies toward that end have clearly failed, and at great cost to U.S. taxpayers.
A border policy that relies solely on enforcement is bound to fail. Congress should build on President Bush’s immigration initiative to enact a temporary visa program that would allow workers from Canada, Mexico, and other countries to work in the United States without restriction for a certain limited time.
International Migration : Prospects and Policies in a Global Market (2004) co-editor
According to Amazon, the basic premise per Amazon is that international migration is not rooted in poverty or rapid population growth, but in the expansion and consolidation of global markets. The insertion of non-market societies into global networks of trade unleashes structural transformations that displace people to create migrants. Globalization also creates infrastructures of transportation, communication, and social networks to put developed societies within reach.

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