Thoughts on Immigration

When I lived in the States I knew a fair number of immigrants, many were from Mexico, quite a few were European and the rest were from all over. And most of those immigrants were residing in the U.S. legally. I would estimate that about 15% to 20% of the immigrants I knew in the States had immigration problems, while the rest were fully “legal”.

When I moved to Mexico I naively thought that Mexico would be more welcoming to immigrants than the U.S. I thought that since Mexico was a poor country, a 3rd world country, it would probably recognize the value of immigrants, with their diverse backgrounds and cultures and skills. I thought that Mexico would at least welcome well-educated immigrants with who wish to come here and start businesses (and create new jobs) or teach what they know.

But noooooo, Mexico has more restrictive immigration laws than the U.S. does. It is quite a bit harder to comply with immigration laws here than in the U.S., especially if you want to work here. And as a result I know lots and lots of immigrants here who have some kind of problem with Mexican immigration. I estimate that 40% to 50% of the immigrants I know have some kind of problem with immigration.

Now most immigrants I know here have permission to live here, the problem many of them have is that they do not have permission to work here, at least not in the jobs they actually hold. Mexico will not allow immigrants to easily hold more than a few types of jobs, basically they only allow foreigners to take jobs that cannot be done by a Mexican. So English-speaking immigrants can more easily get permission to teach English or sell timeshares to gringos, than to do other work in other fields.

By protecting it’s weak job market in this way Mexico, in my humble opinion, is missing out on a huge untapped talent pool. And to me that is a big waste.

Mexico is not alone in imposing strict immigration laws. Many countries do the same. But it was an eye opener for me to realize that despite all the hub-bub in the U.S. about Immigration laws it is still easier to comply with the laws there than it is here in Mexico. The difference is that here it never makes the news.

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