Mexican migrant workers in Dome Valley near Yuma
Mexican migrant workers in Dome Valley near Yuma, Ariz. Reuters

A tide of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States is receding as many Mexicans choose to pursue careers in their home country, The New York Times reported.

Between 2000 and 2004, an average of 525,000 Mexicans illegally crossed the border each year. That number has declined to about 100,000 in 2010, a downwards trend that is largely linked to improvements in Mexico's quality of life and economic opportunity, according to evidence cited by The Times.

No one wants to hear it, but the flow [of undocumented Mexicans] has already stopped, said Douglas S. Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton. For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.

The article cites several factors bolstering the decrease. In America, the U.S. State Department has expanded its efforts to grant legal status to Mexicans wishing to emigrate, and enhanced border security has become a deterrent by driving up the cost and risk of crossing. But more powerful than this are the incentives to remain in Mexico. Smaller families and economic progress have increased the number of available jobs and driven up salaries, while an improving education system helps prepare young Mexicans for work.

They're identifying more with Mexico, said Agustín Martínez González, a teacher, of his students. With more education, they're more likely to accept reality here and try to make it better.