When NAFTA went into effect, on January 1, 1994, Mexicans and Central Americans made up 4.6% of the U.S. labor force. In 2009, about the peak of this population in the U.S., these workers made up 9.6% (of which 80% were Mexicans), an increase of five million workers at an annual growth rate of 5%. The native-born workforce over that period grew annually on average by 0.7%.
The Mexican & Central American workforce in the U.S. is one of the largest cross – border workforces in the world. But NAFTA, and the replacement treaties now being negotiated, don’t include an provisions to govern this workforce.