Page 18


“Migration is not bad, economically speaking, for the place of origin and the place of destiny. In fact, it’s good, it’s positive, economically speaking, for the two.” Pho to by Lou is Du bose electricians. That’s almost a vanishing species. Why? Because they go to the United States. And employers in Tijuana have to compete with employers in the United States for the same workers. And that’s something that’s affecting very negatively the economic growth of Tijuana. Do maquiladoras along the border attract labor that would otherwise emigrate to the United States? They don’t hire migrants. They might attract migrants, but they don’t hire migrants. There are some exceptions . . . in certain areas like Nogales for instance. Nogales is a place where there are labor shortages; they have to resort to recruiters to bring migrants to Nogales. The place where you find the highest concentration of maquiladoras is Ciudad Juarez. This is what we have studied the most. What we have found in Ciudad Juarez is that maquiladora industry prefers permanent residents. They have -higher levels of education. In fact the maquiladora can be very choosy. It’s something that is very interesting. They have a minimum and a maximum. They don’t hire beyond certain levels of education. Do you consider American investment programs, as they are occasionally proposed by American legislators, as a potential long-term solution to Mexico’s unemployment problem? No, no, not necessarily. I would be in favor of United States investment in Mexico but not as a solution to immigration. We need more investment from the United States. But, in fact, you could argue that sometimes investment, United States investment in Mexico, produces outmigration. That is something that could be documented in the case of the capital and technology invested in certain agricultural productions, such as tomato in Sinaloa. The most intensive use of capital displaced workers that ended up in the United States. So, in that way, my answer to your question is definitely no. Because there is no relation between investment and no migration. I’m not suggesting, by the example that I just gave you, that outmigration is produced by foreign investment. By no means. But I’m saying that there is no relation between capital investment and no migration. Sometimes it operates the opposite. When the investment is not directed toward labor-intensive industry? There is one important factor. And that is, outmigration is not produced by unemployment. That’s a very common notion that I used to have, until we found that more than 85 percent of the undocumented emigrants that we were able to detect had a job in Mexico prior to crossing into the United States. The most important factor in going to the United States is higher wages, not necessarily unemployment. So you could have zero unemployment in Mexico and still have emigration to the United States because of higher wages. Investment does produce more jobs, but not necessarily better wages. If they don’t produce higher wages, the incentive for going to the United States is going to be maintained. Of course, it is higher wages in combination with other factors. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. Everybody would be in the United States. What is the potential, as you see it, for emigration to the United States? Number one, migration is not an illness. Migration is a fact of life, an economic fact, in terms of development. You find that, in a process of development, migration tends to intensify rather than the opposite. So, migration is not bad, economically speaking, for the place of origin and the place of destiny. In fact, it’s good, it’s positive, economically speaking, for the two. This is something that I demonstrated in my research looking for the impact of migration on income distribution in the places of origin or the place of destiny. The most recent result of that study I published in Commercio Exterior last year. And migration within Mexico is changing. Places that were net receivers of population in the past, such as Tijuana and Mexico City, are now points of outmigration. And internal imfnigration to border cities has diminished tremendously in the last ten years. Internal migration patterns are changing; this is a process of going from underdevelopment to development. And migration is affected by a lot of factors. Migration to the United States has been affected by inflation, in a very significant way. In a survey that we did in October of 1981, compared to a survey that we did in May of 1984, we found a cost increase of eight to ten times in traveling from the central part of Mexico the traditional area of outmigration to the State of California. In 1981 the average cost was between ten thousand to fifteen thousand pesos. Now it is between one hundred and one hundred fifty thousand. What I’m suggesting is that the increase between eight to ten times, in less than three years, has diminished the possibility of migrating to the favorite place, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9