Family, better jobs pull mexicans to USA

Most of the estimated 6.3 million Mexicans who are in the USA illegally came because of family connections and better job opportunities here, not because they were unemployed or destitute in their homeland, according to a survey released.

The survey of 4,836 Mexicans by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that only 5% of respondents who have been here two years or less were jobless in Mexico. The center is a non-profit research group in Washington.

The results indicate that improving social and economic conditions in Mexico may not necessarily slow the influx of illegal immigrants.

«Our perception of the unauthorized workforce is that these are people who are desperate, (who) would do something illegal,» says Rakesh Kochhar, author of the report. «That is not the case. Unemployment is not a motivation. The typical motivation is opportunity and long-term prospects.»

The survey was conducted in Spanish at Mexican consulates in seven U.S. cities over seven months ending in January. Those surveyed were applying for identity cards, and most are believed to have been here illegally, Kochhar says.

The debate over unauthorized workers is heating up across the country. There have been protests in Virginia over proposals for publicly financed gathering places for day laborers, many in this country illegally. The Minuteman Project has attracted volunteers who patrol the U.S.-Mexican border. Debate is continuing in Congress about whether to build a 2,000-mile steel-and-wire fence along the border.