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Most Illegal Immigrants in Mexico Come from the U.S.

Some ironic news: The majority of illegal immigrants in Mexico are from the U.S., Mexico’s federal bureau of immigration told the GlobalPost this week. But it’s not an exact mirror of the U.S.’s illegal immigration problem: In Mexico, they encourage illegal immigrants found in the country to stay and begin a five-year process to become citizens.

Mexican immigration agent Beatrice Amparo Perez Alatorre told the GlobalPost that “many undocumented Americans arrive not knowing how long they’ll stay, don’t get the appropriate papers and end up in the country illegally.”

Legal immigration to Mexico also mostly stems from the U.S. — perhaps unsurprising because its the country’s largest neighbor. About 70 percent of foreign-born Mexican citizens came from the U.S., whereas five percent — next largest number — came from Guatemala.

It is not a crime to be in Mexico illegally, but entering the country illegally, violating terms of a visa or re-entering after deportation can result in up to about $440 in fines. Bringing illegal immigrants into Mexico is more serious, with 12-day jail times and fines of more than $41,000. Most illegal immigrants are fined and asked to begin the process to become citizens, according to the report.

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