California and Texas have the largest populations of Mexican immigrants in all of the United States. A recent study, published by SAGE in the January/February issue of the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences explored what life and jobs are like for those immigrants and whether one state has higher levels of anti-immigrant sentiment than the other.
The study, led by Isao Takei of the University of Texas at Austin, examined the earnings by Mexican immigrants in California and Texas, the states with the largest Mexican immigrant populations. Looking at the current immigration population, the laws in both states and analyzing data from the 2000 5% Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), (widely used in earnings studies because it provides a large, nationally representative sample of all sectors of the labor force, including minority populations), the researchers came to several key conclusions:
- Mexican immigrants have encountered harsher treatment in California than in Texas – at least over the last decade
- California has harsher anti-immigrant policies and sentiments than Texas, and provides fewer accessible services for them
- Foreign-born Mexican workers face more wage disadvantages compared with their counterparts of other nationalities
- The longer the immigrants stay in the U.S., the fewer the disadvantages they face
- Native U.S. born Mexicans tend to choose higher status occupations than do the foreign born Mexicans
“While our study estimated the cost of being a non-citizen in the two states with the largest concentration of Mexican-origin workers in the U.S.,” write the authors in the article, “future research needs to examine the labor market experiences of Mexican-origin workers in new-destination areas, primarily places in the South and Midwest where Mexicans immigrants have settled over the last decade.”