versión impresa ISSN 1665-8906
Migr. Inter vol.6 no.1 México ene./jun. 2011
New Migration Stream between Mexico and Canada
Nuevo flujo migratorio entre México y Canadá
Douglas S. Massey* y Amelia E. Brown**
* Princeton University. Dirección electrónica: email@example.com.
** Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Dirección electrónica: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date of receipt: March 30, 2010.
Date of acceptance: June 2, 2010.
Data from the Mexican Migration Project is used to contrast processes of Mexican migration to Canada and the United States. All migrants to Canada entered through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and migration there is strongly predicted by marital status and number of dependents. Conversely, most migrants to the United States are undocumented and thus selfselected without regard to marital status or parenthood. Migrants to Canada enjoy superior labor market outcomes with higher wages and more compact work schedules that yield higher earnings and shorter periods away from families. Labor migration to Canada also tends to operate as a circular flow with considerable repeat migration whereas undocumented migrants to the United States tend to stay longer, since crossing the MexicoU.S. border has become increasingly difficult.
Keywords: emigration, labor migration, Mexico, Canada, United States.
En este artículo se comparan los flujos migratorios de México a Canadá y Estados Unidos, con base en datos del Proyecto de Migración Mexicana (MMP), según el cual los inmigrantes que llegaron a Canadá entraron a través del Programa de Trabajadores Agrícolas Temporales. En correspondencia con los criterios de este programa, se trata de una población mayoritariamente masculina, casada y con dependientes. En contraste, la mayoría de los inmigrantes a Estados Unidos son indocumentados y, por ende, autoseleccionados, de manera que el estado civil o número de hijos es irrelevante. En comparación con Estados Unidos, en Canadá los inmigrantes disfrutan de mejores salarios y jornadas laborales más compactas, lo que se refleja en mayores ganancias y menos tiempo alejados de sus familias. La migración laboral a Canadá tiende a una mayor circularidad, mientras que los inmigrantes en Estados Unidos posponen su retorno debido al incremento en la dificultad del cruce fronterizo.
Palabras clave: emigración, migración laboral, México, Canadá, Estados Unidos.
Current proposals for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States generally include a sizeable guest worker program for Mexico. The goal of such a program would be to restore circularity to a movement that was interrupted by militarization of the border during the 1990s (Portes, 2007). It would also accommodate the seasonal demand for workers in the United States as well as the desire of most migrants to work in the United States temporarily rather than permanently (Durand and Massey, 2001). Although critics argue that temporary labor programs invariably lead to long term settlement and are ripe for labor abuses and worker exploitation, reform advocates respond that conditions associated with a legal guest worker program could not possibly be worse than those currently experienced by undocumented workers in the United States (Massey, Durand, and Malone, 2002).
Although Mexico has long been a country of emigration, until quite recently virtually all of its migrants went to just one countrythe United Statesand within that country concentrated overwhelmingly in a single stateCalifornia. During the 1990s, however, Mexican migration to the United States diversified geographically. Whereas two thirds of all migrants went to California before 1990, afterward only one third went to California. New migration streams flowed to states such as Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota as well as traditional destinations in Texas and Illinois. This dramatic shift in the geography of immigration has become the subject of considerable scrutiny in recent years (Zúñiga and Hernández León, 2005; Gozdziak and Martin, 2005; Light, 2006; Massey, 2008; Singer, Hardwick, and Brettell, 2008). Unnoticed in this larger geographic shift, however, was the emergence of an entirely new migration stream to a second country of destinationCanada.
Whereas geographic diversification within the United States was driven by changes in U.S. border enforcement, industrial restructuring, and the saturation of labor markets in gateway regions (Massey and Capoferro, 2008), the emergence of new migration streams to Canada stemmed from rising economic integration under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After NAFTA'S implementation in 1994, trade between Canada and Mexico increased dramatically. Canada is now Mexico's largest trading partner after the United States and Mexico is Canada's third largest trading partner after the United States and China. As economic connections have grown, so too have movements of people between Mexico and Canada. Unlike the United States, however, Canada has sought to accommodate the influx of Mexicans through legal channels, thus providing a point of comparison with the overwhelmingly undocumented flow into the United States.
In this article, we use new data from the Mexican Migration Project to undertake a comparative analysis of Mexican migration to Canada versus the United States to evaluate the consequences of documented versus undocumented migration and to assess the efficacy of legal guest worker programs relative to unauthorized labor migration. We begin by describing the organization and evolution of labor migration to Canada, and then move on to assess the degree to which Canadian policies produce migrants with desired characteristics and how these compare with the characteristics of migrants to the United States, who are primarily though not exclusively undocumented. We then assess the degree to which circularity prevails among Mexican migrants to each country and the relative economic success of migrants in both settings. Our results suggest that it is indeed possible to design temporary worker programs that minimize settlement, maximize return migration, and yield better wages and working conditions.
Mexican Migration to Canada
As shown in figure 1, temporary labor migration from Mexico rose by 153 percent from 1998 to 2007, going from an annual flow of around 7 000 workers to a little under 18 000 workers in ten years. Mexico is now the second largest source of temporary workers for Canada, accounting for 11 percent of all entries of foreign workers (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2008). Most Mexican temporary laborers (94%) come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), which recruits laborers from Mexico and several Caribbean countries for employment of up to eight months on Canadian farms (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2006).
Mexico has also become the top source country for refugee claimants in Canada, a distinction brought to public attention in July 2009 when immigration minister Jason Kenney suddenly announced that Mexican visitors would now require visas to enter Canada. In 2007, over 7 000 Mexicans filed for refugee status in Canada, representing a quarter of all refugee claimants (a dramatic increase from less than 5 percent of claims ten years before) (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2008). Few of these claimants, however, are approved to become legal permanent residents of Canada.
Although few refugee claimants from Mexico achieve permanent residency in Canada, the overall number of Mexicans who become permanent residents has increased almost as dramatically in the past ten years as entries of temporary Mexican workers (132 percent growth from 1998 to 2007). That said, in absolute terms the number of temporary workers from Mexico still dwarfs the number of Mexicans becoming permanent residents of Canada. Whereas close to 18 000 Mexicans entered Canada as temporary workers in 2007, just over 3 000 became permanent residents (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2008); and the 2006 Canadian Census enumerated just 50 000 Mexicans out of a foreign born population of around 6.2 million (Statistics Canada, 2009).
Despite the rapid growth in migration between Mexico and Canada, research on this topic to date has been limited. Most studies have focused on SAWP: documenting the experiences of Mexican workers in Canada, examining the role of Mexican workers in the Canadian economy and creating new markets, and considering the effect of the program on development in Mexico (Basok 2000, 2003, 2004; Binford, 2006; Gibb, 2006; Hennebry, 2008; Montoya, 2005; Mysyk, 2000; Preibisch, 2007; Satzewich, 1991). Few studies have considered the determinants of migration to and from Canada (Binford et al., 2004; Basok, 2002; Verduzco and Lozano, 2003) and to our knowledge none have compared patterns and processes of migration to Canada versus the United States.
As already noted, SAWP brings workers from Mexico and the Caribbean to Canada for short periods of farm labor not exceeding eight months. Mexican participation in the program dates to 1974, when 203 workers were initially recruited. SAWP operates based on a signed memorandum of understanding between Canada and Mexico (Aldrete, 2006). The Mexican government agrees to recruit workers who are at least 18 years old, have agricultural experience, are Mexican citizens, and who otherwise comply with the immigration laws of Canada (e.g. have no prior criminal convictions), and Canada agrees to certain social and labor market rights for the migrants. The Mexican government additionally requires that workers be aged 22 to 45, have a third to ninthgrade education, be married or in a commonlaw union or have dependents, and live in a rural area (Trejo and Álvarez, 2007). The Canadian government has signed similar memoranda with Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, though the rules and regulations vary slightly from place to place (Ruddick, 2004).
Within Canada the program is administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provincial governments, and Mexican consular officials. Workers sign contracts with individual employers that outline job responsibilities and wages. Employers cover the cost of roundtrip airfare to Canada, supply housing (except in British Columbia), provide lowcost meals or a cooking area, and offer free workers' compensation insurance. Workers pay Canadian taxes, pension deductions, employment insurance deductions, and sometimes the cost of lodging and food. Workers have access to Canadian health care and are eligible for Canadian pension, unemployment, disability, and parental benefits, depending on the length of time they work in Canada. Wages must be equal to the provincial minimum wage, the prevailing wage identified by the Government of Canada, or the rate the employer pays Canadians for doing similar work, whichever is highest (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2009).
All Canadian provinces except for NewfoundlandLabrador participate in the program, but most Mexican workers go to Ontario (61% in 2005), followed by Quebec (27%), British Columbia (5%), Alberta (3%), and Manitoba (3%) (Coordinación General de Empleo, 2006). Ontario has the largest agricultural sector in Canada and is the original participant in the program. In 2000, SAWP workers from Mexico and the Caribbean made up 55 percent of Ontario's agricultural workforce and accounted for 45 percent of hours worked (Binford, 2006).
Workers come primarily from states near Mexico City because administration of the program is centralized there and workers, on average, have to travel to the Federal District six times during the application process (Verduzco and Lozano, 2003). In 2005, for example, nearly a quarter of participants came from the state of México, 16 percent came from Tlaxcala, 7 percent came from Puebla and Guanajuato, respectively, and 6 percent came from Morelos and Hidalgo, respectively (Coordinación General de Empleo, 2006). Although the number of workers participating in SAWP has grown steadily, most participants are repeat migrants. In 2007, for example, around 80 percent of SAWP workers from Mexico were past program participants (Dwyer, 2008). Although women have been allowed to participate in SAWP since 1989, they constituted just 3 percent of the inflow in 2005. Whereas most women work in strawberries, men are more evenly distributed across crops, with 36 percent working in vegetables, 17 percent in tobacco, 16 percent in fruits, 15 percent in greenhouses, 5 percent in nurseries, 2 percent in ginseng, and 9 percent in other types of crops (Coordinación General de Empleo, 2006).
Data and Methods
Our data come from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP), which since 1982 has conducted yearly surveys of communities throughout Mexico (Durand and Massey, 2004). The communities are purposively selected to build social, economic, demographic, and geographic heterogeneity into the sample, and at this point the MMP contains a diverse range of community sizes and economic bases. Within each community selected for study, households are randomly selected and interviewed during the winter months when seasonal migrants are likely to be home. Interviews are conducted using a semistructured questionnaire that blends ethnographic and survey methods to gather basic social, demographic, and economic information about each household member, including information on each person's first and last international trip. Household heads provide a more detailed life history that yields a yearbyyear record of migration. They are also asked to elaborate on their most recent international trip, including information on documentation, occupation, hours worked, and earnings. Further details on the sample and all data used in this analysis are available at the MMP website.
Our sample is drawn from four communities in the state of Mexico that were surveyed in 2005 and which send significant numbers of migrants to both Canada and the United States. To maintain the confidentiality of survey participants, we do not identify the communities, referring to them instead by the following fabricated names: San Tomás, San Pedro, San Martín, and San Simón. According to the 2000 Mexican Census, San Tomás has a population of 7 000, compared with 4 000 inhabitants in San Pedro, 3 000 in San Martín, and 2 000 in San Simón (figures are rounded to prevent identification of specific communities). The numbers of households interviewed in each community were 199, 196, 103, and 119, respectively, with associated refusal rates of 7 percent, 15 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent.
Data from these communities are not representative of all migrants to Canada or the United States, of course. In the absence of other reliable information, however, the use of a comparable sampling questionnaire design provides a systematic basis for considering the characteristics of migrants to each country. Several factors suggest that the data provide fairly unbiased, if not exhaustive, information on Mexican migration to Canada. The characteristics of Canadian migrants identified in the MMP closely match those reported in ethnographic studies of Mexican SAWP participants (Basok, 2002; Verduzco and Lozano, 2003; and Binford et al., 2004). Furthermore, all four communities are located in the state (Mexico), which annually sends the most migrants to Canada. Finally, because the overwhelming majority of Mexican migrants to Canada are legal temporary workers who return home within eight months of entry, they are likely to be fully included in MMP community surveys.
The data on U.S. migrants are probably less representative of the total than data on Canadian migrants. MexicoU.S. migrants are a mixture of documented immigrants, undocumented migrants, and temporary legal workers. Whereas most undocumented workers historically returned home each year, trip lengths have increased in recent years in response to the militarization of the MexicoU.S. border (Massey, Durand, and Malone, 2002). This lengthening of trips only biases results of the MMP surveys when entire households leave Mexico, since data on absent family members continue to be reported by other family members who remain.
Given the fact that relatively few Mexican migrants to Canada are women, we focus on a sample of 521 men, 132 of whom have prior experience in the United States and 45 of whom have migratory experience in Canada. After comparing the social and economic characteristics of male migrants to each destination, we estimate discretetime event history models to compare the determinants of first migration to Canada and first migration to the United States. Although movements to Canada and the United States are likely mutually exclusive within any given year, men with prior experience in Canada can later migrate to the United States, and those with prior experience in the United States may subsequently migrate to Canada. We therefore estimate a bivariate probit model that follows each man from age 15 to the survey date and predicts whether or not he took a first trip to Canada or the United States in year t given his characteristics in year t1. Person years after a first trip to Canada or a first trip to the United States are excluded, yielding 17 535 person years of observation. In order to assess the ability of temporary worker programs to limit durations of stay, we then estimate the likelihood of returning to Mexico from each country in 12 months or less.
Migrants to Canada and the United States
The most basic difference between the two migratory flows is their legal composition. Whereas 100 percent of the migrants who left Mexico on their first trip to Canada entered as legal temporary workers, only 18 percent of those who left on their first trip to the United States did so, most commonly as agricultural workers with an H2A visa, with the remaining 72 percent entering in some unauthorized status. Table 1 compares selected socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of these migrants, with those going to the U.S. being broken down by legal status. These characteristics were chosen for examination because prior work has shown them to be important in predicting outmigration from Mexico (Massey, 1987; Massey and Espinosa 1997). Given that Mexican authorities deliberately seek to recruit older married fathers to participate in Canada's seasonal worker program and there is no such selection process for migrants to the United States, it is not surprising that there are major differences in demographic background between migrants to the two countries. As one would expect, migrants to Canada are older than migrants to the United States (mean age of 31.6 versus 28.2), more predominantly married (93% versus 62%), and have more minor children (<18) present in the household (2.9 versus 1.7).
Also in keeping with the SAWP recruitment process, farm backgrounds are more common among the migrants going to Canada than among migrants going to the United States. Whereas 67 percent of all men going to Canada worked in agriculture prior to departure and none came from nonmanual occupations, only 59 percent of U.S.bound migrants were farm workers and 6 percent came from nonmanual occupations. Migrants to the United States were also more likely not to have worked prior to departure, 5 percent being out of the labor force compared with just 2 percent among those going to Canada.
Corresponding to their higher share of agricultural workers, migrants to Canada were also more likely than those to the United States to own farmland (16% versus 11%); but they were also more likely to own homes (62% versus 41%) and businesses (4% versus 3%). In general, migrants to Canada appear to be more established and rooted in the community than their U.S. counterparts, with more property, wives, and children at home. In terms of education, however, the two groups of migrants are quite similar, with an average of around sixandahalf years of schooling.
They differ, however, in terms of migration specific human capitalknowledge and experience gained in the course of migration itself. Whereas 20 percent of firsttime migrants to Canada had already been to the United States, only 2 percent of firsttime migrants to the United States had been to Canada. Migration to either nation from the state of Mexico is relatively recent, as Mexico's central region was a late entrant into a migratory process that historically was centered in the westcentral region of the country around the city of Guadalajara (Durand and Massey, 2003). Only 1.5 percent of migrants to the United States in our sample came from a household where another family member had U.S. experience, whereas in western Mexico the figure is nearly 60 percent (Massey and Phillips, 1999). Nonetheless, U.S. migration within the state has deeper roots than Canadian migration. Whereas 26 percent of migrants to the United States reported leaving on their first U.S. trip before 1980, only 4 percent of those going to Canada reported a first Canadian trip before this date. First trips among migrants to Canada are heavily concentrated in the 1980s (38%) and the 1990s (51%), with only 7 percent between 2000 and 2005. In contrast, 24 percent of migrants to the United States began migrating after 2000.
In sum, almost all of the migrants to Canada in our sample (89%) began migrating during the 1980s and 1990s, whereas the first trips of migrants to the United States are more evenly distributed across time. The reason for this difference in the temporal distribution of migration stems from the penchant of migrants to Canada to repeat in the seasonal worker program year after year, whereas U.S. migrants display no such tendency. The average migrant to Canada reported a total of 5.2 trips compared with an average of just 2.1 trips among migrants to the United States. As suggested by figure 1, most migrants to Canada entered the program in the 1980s or 1990s and once in simply reenrolled in subsequent years, leaving little room for new entrants.
Once migrants are embedded in the Canadian system, they tend to return to Canada and do not look upon the United States as an alternative. As noted earlier, only 2 percent of migrants to the United States reported prior experience in Canada, whereas 20 percent of migrants to Canada reported prior experience in the United States. In other words, Mexicans appear to shift from American to Canadian migration but not vice versa. Moreover, consistent with the SAWP requirements, trips to Canada are much shorter than trips to the United States, lasting an average of 4.8 months compared with 31.5 months for U.S. trips. The mean and median for length of trip are nearly the same among migrants to Canada, indicating a relatively normal distribution with a short tail. In contrast, the mean duration of a U.S. trip (31.5 months) is much larger than the median (12 months), suggesting a skewed distribution with a long tail and much greater heterogeneity in trip length. Whereas 100 percent of migrants to Canada were back in Mexico within 12 months, the figure was only 40 percent among migrants to the United States.
The tendency for Canadian migrants to take more trips of shorter lengths reflects differences in documentation, given that all Canadian migrants in the sample traveled legally under the SAWP program whereas 82 percent of those going to the United States traveled without documents. As crossing the MexicoU.S. border without authorization has become much more difficult and costly, migrants have responded by settling in larger numbers and staying longer, driving up trip durations in the United States, but not in Canada (Massey, Durand, and Malone 2002).
The tendency for migrants to Canada to repeat trips and for Canadian migrants to be drawn from U.S. migrants but not vice versa suggests a possible tendency toward specialization at the community level, with some communities sending most migrants to Canada and others sending most to the United States. The distribution of migrants by community suggests this kind of specialization may indeed be occurring. Whereas the community of San Tomás contained 48 percent of all migrants to the United States in our sample, it contained just 2 percent of those to Canada. Likewise, whereas 58 percent of all Canadian migrants came from San Pedro, only 23 percent of U.S. migrants did so. In San Martín the respective figures were 22 percent and 7 percent. Only the community of San Simón contained roughly the same number of Canadian and American migrants (18% versus 23%).
Among U.S. migrants, we find several relatively clear differences in the characteristics of legal temporary and undocumented workers. Temporary workers are more likely to have held an agricultural occupation in Mexico prior to departure (78% versus 55% compared with 67% among migrants to Canada) and they are more likely also to own farmland (25% versus 8% and 16% among migrants to Canada). Although the United States has sponsored a temporary labor program for Mexico since 1977 and its size has increased dramatically in recent years, most of the temporary migrants in the U.S. sample gained their experience before 1965 under the Bracero Program, which ran from 1942 through 1964. Thus some 58 percent of temporary workers took their first U.S. trip before 1980, compared with just 19 percent of undocumented migrants. The average trip duration was also much shorter for temporary migrants, with a mean of just five months and a median of four months compared with respective figures of 37 and 24 months among undocumented migrants. Among temporary labor migrants to both nations, durations of stay were thus short, comparable, and consistent with program requirements. Indeed, 100 percent of temporary labor migrants to both country returned home within a year.
Determinants of First Migration
Table 2 presents the results of a bivariate probit model estimated to show the effects of the foregoing variables on the probability of taking a first trip to Canada or the United States. Being married and having minor children significantly and positively predicts the likelihood of migrating to Canada but have no effect on migration to the United States. These significant coefficients do not come as a surprise given that migrants to Canada are selected by Mexican government officials to be married and have dependents while migrants to the United States are mostly selfselected subject to no official screening. Even though age was also a selection criterion for migration to Canada, it had no independent effect once marital status and minor children variables were controlled. Migrants to Canada come from a narrow age range because they are married with minor children. In contrast, migrants to the United States are highly selected with respect to age and display the characteristic curvilinear relationship, with probabilities of migration rising from the teens to around age 30 before declining again.
Neither migrants to Canada nor the United States are selected with respect to occupation, property ownership, or education. They are selected, however, with respect to prior migratory experience. Consistent with our hypothesis of specialization in one migration stream or the other, prior experience in one country is negatively related to the odds of migrating to the other. In keeping with our observation that movement from the U.S. migration stream to the Canadian migration stream is more likely than the reverse, moreover, we find that the effect of prior Canadian experience has a much more negative effect (0.965) on the likelihood of migration to the United States than prior U.S. experience has on the likelihood of migration to Canada (0.469), a difference that is statistically significant (p<.05).
In addition, our earlier conjecture that San Tomás specializes in migration to the United States and the other communities specialize in migration to Canada is supported by the negative coefficients associated with San Pedro, San Martín and San Simón; and consistent with the descriptive results, the coefficient associated with the latter community is the smallest. Apart from the above effects, the only other variables found to predict migration significant are the period indicators. The highest probabilities of migration to Canada occur during the 1980s and 1990s, whereas migration to the United States is characterized by steadily rising probabilities over the decades.
Labor Market Status
A principal argument for expanding temporary labor migration to the United States is that guest worker programs offer fewer opportunities for labor exploitation compared with mass undocumented migration. To evaluate this assertion, table 3 presents information on selected labor market outcomes for Mexican migrants on their latest trip trip to Canada and the United States. In Canada, nearly all temporary Mexican migrants work in agriculture (98%), where they engage in long workweeks (52.2 hours) at relatively high wages (11.72 US dollars per hour) for a concentrated period of time (5.2 months). During a season of work in the United States, they perform around 1 086 hours of labor and earn a total of 12 725 US dollars, most of which can be repatriated directly home because employers cover the cost of travel, insurance, lodging, and often even food.
Legal temporary workers in the United States do not fare nearly as well. They earn only 10.72 US dollars per hour (about 8.5% less than their Canadian counterparts) and work fewer hours per week (48.2, about 7.7% less) and remain abroad for far less time (just 4.4 months, or 15% less). As a result they only supply 848 total hours of labor (22% less than Canadian guest workers) and earn considerably less income during a season of work (a total of just 9 093 US dollars, or 29% less)and for American guest workers fewer of the costs of migration are absorbed by employers.
Despite this disadvantage, however, legal temporary workers in the United States fare much better in the labor market than those without documents, who earn just 9.06 US dollars per hour (23% than Canadian guest workers and 15% less than those in the United States) and work an average of just 44.2 hours per week (15% less than in Canada and 8% less than in the United States). To earn the same amount of money, therefore, undocumented migrants must remain abroad much, much longer. On average, undocumented migrants in the United States are away from their families 9.8 months, 88 percent longer than guest workers in Canada. In the end undocumented workers end up supplying a total of 1 733 hours of labor to earn a total of 15 698 US dollars for a season of work. Although this amount is 23 percent greater than the total earned by Canadian guest workers, none of the costs of travel, food, or lodging are covered by U.S. employers. In the end, undocumented migrants in the United States probably earned about the same quantity of money but spent 647 more hours doing it.
The most privileged migrants appear to be legal resident aliens in the United States, who earned an average of 14.13 US dollars per hour for a 42.6 hour workweek maintained of 8.5 months, yielding 1 448 total hours of labor and 20 466 US dollars of income. Drawing conclusions about the relative labor market status of legal U.S. immigrants, however, is tempered by the very small sample size of just four persons. In addition, differences in wages may be attributed to differences occupation, education, or other characteristics that vary by legal status and country of destination. Table 4 therefore concludes the labor market analysis by estimating a simple wage regression expressing the natural log of the real wage as a function of the migrant's demographic characteristics, occupation, documentation, human capital, and physical capital owned prior to departure.
The estimated equation reveals that, other things equal, temporary legal workers in Canada earn around 38 percent more than undocumented migrants in the United States, and this does not include benefits such as employerprovided transportation, lodging, insurance, and food. Although temporary workers in the United States earn 15 percent more than their undocumented counterparts and legal immigrants earn 10 percent more, these effects are not statistically significant whereas the effect of being a Canadian guest worker is highly significant. Thus legal temporary work in Canada appears to be better remunerated even than work by permanent legal residents in the United States.
In this analysis we have documented significant differences in the composition of Mexican migrants to Canada and the United States, very distinct processes of selection into the migrant workforce, and very different labor market outcomes that reflect the auspices of migration to each country. All migrants to Canada entered through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, which targets specific kinds of people for temporary but legal work in Canadian agriculture. Consistent with SAWP criteria, migration to Canada is strongly predicted by marital status and number of dependents, yielding a migrant population that is made up of males of prime labor force age who are married and have multiple children at home. In contrast, the vast majority of migrants to the United States are undocumented and selfselected without regard to marital status or parenthood. Migration to the United States is strongly predicted by age, and migration probabilities display the age curve classically associated with labor migration.
Owing to the official auspices of migration to Canada and wellregulated labor recruitment regime, compared with the unofficial auspices of undocumented migration to the United States across an increasingly militarized border, the two migratory streams operate in very different ways. The Canadian stream operates as a circular flow with considerable repeat migration: people regularly moving to Canada for work during the spring and summer, staying for an average of around five months, and returning to Mexico in the fall and winter. In contrast, undocumented migrants to the United States do not come and go so regularly, as crossing the MexicoU.S. border has become increasingly difficult and costly. Consequently migrants to the United States build up fewer trips and stay longer on each trip, with a median duration of 12 months and a mean duration of around 32 months (implying that some migrants stay a very long time indeed).
Longer trip lengths are also required because the costs of travel are much greater for undocumented migrants. Whereas employers pay the costs of travel, lodging, insurance, and sometimes food for Canadian guest workers, undocumented migrants enjoy none of these benefits. In addition, undocumented migrants must pay border smuggling fees that have risen rapidly in recent years. Thus for migrants to Canada a trip becomes profitable very soon after arrival, whereas among undocumented migrants to the United States several weeks or months must be devoted to paying off travel costs and smuggling fees and a portion of earnings after that must be devoted to food and lodging. The burden on undocumented migrants is especially great because they earn lower hourly wages, just 9.06 US dollars per hour compared with 11.72 US dollars per hour for guest workers in Canada. As a result, undocumented migrants must work far more hours and spend much longer periods of time away from their families to earn the same amount of money.
The United States once ran a massive temporary worker program known as the Bracero Program. The program lasted for 22 years but was scrapped by the U.S. Congress in 1965, just as legal immigration from Mexico was placed under numerical limitation for the first time. Over the next two decades migration from Mexico continued, but under undocumented rather than documented auspices. The American response to this rise in undocumented migration was a militarization of the border and a hardening of laws against immigrants, both legal and illegal, but this effort has backfired. By increasing the costs and risks of border crossing, tighter enforcement has induced migrants to avoid crossing the U.S. border as frequently, which they have accomplished by settling down in the United States rather than returning to Mexico. The result was a net increase in the undocumented inflow to the United States that only declined with the onset of economic difficulties after 2000 and ended with the economic crash of 2008.
Although rising unemployment after 2000 may account for some of the recent decline in undocumented migration, another factor has been the return of guest worker migration in the United States (Massey, Pren, and Durand, 2009). Whereas only around 26 000 temporary legal workers entered the United States from Mexico in 1996, by 2000 the number had reached 104 000 and thereafter it mushroomed to 361 000 in 2008. Although results reported here suggest that American guest workers fare much better in the labor market than those without documents, they still do not achieve the same level of economic welfare as their counterparts in Canada, earning less money per hour, working fewer hours per week, remaining abroad fewer months per year, and thus earning 28 percent less income during a season of work. Perhaps the United States should take a lesson from Canada's apparently successful management of its temporary labor program and copy its procedures and administrative design rather than relying entirely on harsh antiimmigrant police actions.
From the viewpoint of Mexican migrants, the choice between migrating to Canada versus migrating to the United States is not primarily a choice about place or country. Rather, for most people, it is a choice between participating in a formal, highly regulated migration process versus an informal process that offers more freedom, but more risk. In recent years the Canadian government has made moves to expand migration from Mexico by offering more legal channels for lowskilled migrants. The CanadaMexico Working Group on Labour Mobility, an intergovernmental body established in 2007 as part of the CanadaMexico Partnership, announced several smallscale pilot projects in 2008 to bring Mexicans to Canada to work in construction and hospitality (CanadaMexico Partnership, 2008). The Canadian government also runs a larger Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training that allows employers to hire foreign workers on contract for up to 24 months for jobs that require a high school education or below. As channels for Mexican migration to Canada widen and diversify beyond SAWP, it will be interesting to observe whether the determinants of Mexican migration to Canada become more similar to the factors that influence Mexican migration to the United States.
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1 Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada or the Government of Canada.
Information about authors
DOUGLAS S. MASSEY es profesor de sociología y política pública en la University of Princeton, Office of Population Research, Princeton, New Jersey. Antes laboró en las universidades de Chicago y Pennsylvania. Su libro más reciente es Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in AntiImmigrant Times, en coautoría con Magaly Sánchez R., publicado por la Fundación Russell Sage. Actualmente es presidente de la Academia Americana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales.
AMELIA E. BROWN es analista política del Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Anteriormente colaboró como asociada del Programa Latinoamericano del Centro Woodrow Wilson de Washington, DC; como investigadora del Programa de Política de Migración de la Fundación Carnegie para la Paz Internacional y como directiva del Programa Fullbright CanadáEstados Unidos. Ha publicado varios artículos y coeditado dos libros, uno de los cuales es Democratic Governance and Social Inequality, editado con Joseph S. Tulchin (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002). Obtuvo su maestría en Asuntos Públicos por la Princeton University, donde ocupó el cargo de investigadora VanSantvoord MerleSmith en asuntos públicos.