During the recent World Cup qualifying match between Mexico and the United States, the stadium in Columbus, Ohio, was awash in soccer fans wearing red, white and blue. I was watching on TV, and I scanned the audience for people wearing green: fans rooting for the Mexican team. I’m sure they were there, but I couldn’t see any - perhaps that’s why organizers chose this particular venue.
It’s no secret that every time a soccer match between these two teams is played on American soil, it is played at a venue where an overwhelming majority of stars-and-stripes fans is guaranteed. But making sure that American fans fill up a stadium is not an easy task; soccer, after all, is nowhere near as popular as football, basketball or baseball. In contrast, Mexico’s fans will follow the national team wherever it plays (even Ohio), especially to see a qualifying match for the World Cup in Brazil next year. And in my experience, immigrants from Mexico will root for the Mexican team no matter how long they have lived in the United States
In Columbus, there are just not as many residents of Mexican origin as there are in other cities, as was obvious during the match. Actually, less than 6 percent of Ohio’s population is Hispanic, according to the latest census data. By comparison, Hispanics make up 17 percent of the general population in the United States. If the soccer match had been held in, say, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio, Miami or New York, the stadium would likely have been a sea of green.
Ohio, however, is the exception. In 1970, there were fewer than 1 million Mexican-born immigrants living in the United States, according to research from the Pew Hispanic Center. That number is now about 11.4 million. We are everywhere. And as is the case with any migratory phenomenon, this “Mexodus” was for decades largely based on the belief that a better life could be found to the north. Jobs are the main attraction - a lack of employment opportunities is a big reason that 1 out of 10 Mexicans leaves their home country.
The other factor in this Mexodus is a rather recent phenomenon. Drug-related violence killed at least 60,000 people during Calderon’s presidency, from 2006 to 2012, and Peña Nieto’s administration has failed to bring peace. Consequently, many Mexicans who have crossed the border in recent years (especially after the economic crisis in 2008) are looking for security - to avoid being robbed, kidnapped or killed.
The Mexodus is a living phenomenon, and it won’t stop.))