112 million people are living in Mexico, and 52 million are living in poverty. This reality is one of many incentives encouraging Mexican citizens to attempt to migrate or immigrate in order to find subsistence for themselves and their families. Historically, Mexico relied on the Hacienda system to provide agriculture work, which kept the population spread throughout the rural areas of the country. Mexico in the modern era, after economic downturn, environmental disaster, and detrimental trade terms imposed by NAFTA, can no longer support a rural working class through agriculture. As a result, the rural population migrate to major urban areas for work. The population of Mexico City has grown to over 20 million, creating a labor surplus that has helped keep wages at a level which creates further poverty.
As almost half the country lives with the fear of unsustainable income, the effects reach the United States as waves of people, fleeing poverty, come to the United States in hopes of securing a means of protected survival through immigration. Workers admit that living in a shadow society of undocumented workers in the United States poses its own risks. These risks; however, may appear minimal when compared to the successful immigrants who return home after years of earning U.S. dollars and can afford to send a child to University or run their own business. The ability to achieve “The American Dream” and then return and support your family, is quickly becoming “The Mexican Dream” for the 52 million people living in poverty.