Deportations and departures: Undocumented Mexican immigrants’ return migration during three presidential administrations

Heeju Sohn, Anne R. Pebley, Amanda Landrian Gonzalez, Noreen Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study examines changes in the sociodemographic patterns of deportation and voluntary return of undocumented immigrants from the United States to Mexico during three US presidential administrations (2001 to 2019) with different immigration policies. Most previous studies examining these migration flows for the United States as a whole have relied exclusively on counts of deportees and returnees, thereby ignoring changes over the past 20 y in the characteristics of the undocumented population itself, i.e., the population at risk of deportation or voluntary return. We estimate Poisson models based on two data sources that permit us to compare changes in the sex, age, education, and marital status distributions of both deportees and voluntary return migrants with the corresponding changes in the undocumented population during the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations: the Migration Survey on the Borders of Mexico-North (Encuesta sobre Migración en las Fronteras de México-Norte) for counts of deportees and voluntary return migrants and the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement for estimated counts of the undocumented population living in the United States. We find that whereas disparities by sociodemographic characteristics in the likelihood of deportation generally increased beginning in Obama’s first term, sociodemographic disparities in the likelihood of voluntary return generally decreased over this period. Despite heightened antiimmigrant rhetoric during the Trump administration, the changes in deportation and voluntary return migration to Mexico among the undocumented during Trump’s term were part of a trend that began early in the Obama administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2212184120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 28 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Mexico
  • United States
  • documentation status
  • migration


Dive into the research topics of 'Deportations and departures: Undocumented Mexican immigrants’ return migration during three presidential administrations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this