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Immigration is movement into an area or region.

Emigration is movement out of an area or region.

The net migration balance is the difference between rates of immigration and rates of emigration.  A net migration gain would signal more immigration into an area.  A net migration loss would signal more emigration out of an area.

How can we describe a migration?

  • On a spatial scale - is it domestic or international?
  • On a temporal scale - is it permanent or temporary? Is it daily or is it seasonal?

Possible reasons for migration:

  • Forced - the migrants could be refugees, or they could have been forced to move due to a construction project.  It could be deportation or a consequence of political or religious persecution.  It could even be a result of slavery
  • Voluntary - the migrants could be seeking higher wages and a better quality of life.  Perhaps lower taxes, better housing or climate, or part of a relationship

Voluntary migrations can be explained by push and pull factors.  Push factors make someone want to emigrate out of a country.  Pull factors make someone want to immigrate into a country.


The border between the USA and Mexico is one of the busiest crossing points in the world.  30 million people cross the border every year, both legally and illegally.  The border is also known as the 'tortilla curtain'.  In 1998, 500,000 Mexicans crossed illegally into the USA.  The border is 1950 miles long and patrolled by armed guards and helicopters.

The Mexican immigrants often move to the nearby states of Texas or California.  Many of the immigrants send their wages back to their family in Mexico that they left behind.  In order to enter America illegally, many immigrants cross a desert that spans across the border, so they risk their lives trying to enter.

Mexican push factors:

  • High crime rates
  • The Drug War - claimed 48,000 lives as a result in the past 5 years
  • Major unemployment (40%) and poverty
  • Water shortages and natural disasters
  • Poor medical facilities (1800 per doctor)
  • Low paid jobs ($3750 GNP)
  • Poor education prospects (55% adult literacy)
  • Low life expectancy (72 years)

USA pull factors:

  • Better infrastructure
  • Better healthcare (400 per doctor)
  • Existing migration communities in California and Texas
  • Better academic prospects (over 99% literacy rates)
  • Better paid jobs ($25,000 GNP)
  • Higher life expectancy (76 years)
  • Abundance of jobs available for low-skilled, low-paid workers

Effects on Mexico - 


  • Unemployment falls and relief for health services
  • Money sent back to Mexico boosts economy

Disadvantages for…


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