Should I Stay or Should I Go? Explaining Why Most Mexican Immigrants are Choosing to Remain Permanently in the United States

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This paper analyzes why some Mexican immigrants, especially undocumented residents, plan to remain permanently in the United States, whereas others plan to return to Mexico. If Mexican migrants, especially those who are living in the United States without proper legal documentation to do so, plan to remain in the United States permanently, there will be far greater consequences on US society and public policies than if the migrants are only planning to reside and work in the United States for a short period. We use logistic regression analysis to analyze a data set of 492 Mexican and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs). Two-thirds of the survey respondents lacked documents to live in the United States, and the remaining one-third indicated that they were US “legal permanent residents.” Specifically, those who planned to remain permanently in the United States appeared to be strongly influenced by “cutting ties” to their sending communities, as well as by “planting roots” in their host, and potentially adopted, community. Importantly, we also find that their documented status had very little effect on their intent to remain permanently in the United States.