We're beginning to wonder if the topics that dominate the GOP presidential race are really just non-issues designed to distract Americans from reality.

We have stagnant wages, a huge housing crisis in big cities such as Los Angeles, student debt that is stifling an entire generation, and massive wealth inequality that is changing the very nature of our democracy.

Yet Republican candidates want to talk about Hitler's fetus, terrorists posing as Syrian refugees (the number of whom, so far, is zero) and, of course, the scourge of south-of-the-border immigration, illegal and otherwise.

While President Obama has spent more on border security than any other modern administration, Donald Trump thinks we need a wall that would rival China's. The big question arising from a new Pew Research Center analysis of immigration is, for what?

The center says, “More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession.”

So why has this issue dominated our national discourse? That's a question you'll have to pose to your nearest GOP candidate.

Pew says that between 2009 and 2014, more than 1 million Mexicans went back home while 870,000 other Mexicans came here, leaving a Mexican deficit of 140,000. 

Most of the departed left of their own accord and were not deported, Pew says. So why? Here's what the research nonprofit says about that:

The decline in the flow of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. is due to several reasons. The slow recovery of the U.S. economy after the Great Recession may have made the U.S. less attractive to potential Mexican migrants and may have pushed out some Mexican immigrants as the U.S. job market deteriorated.

In addition, stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border, may have contributed to the reduction of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S. in recent years. 

Mexico's economy has been improving, too, and manufacturing there (particularly automobiles) has been booming. Pew says many Mexicans no longer see the United States as a huge step up:

While almost half (48%) of adults in Mexico believe life is better in the U.S., a growing share says it is neither better nor worse than life in Mexico. Today, a third (33%) of adults in Mexico say those who move to the U.S. lead a life that is equivalent to that in Mexico — a share 10 percentage points higher than in 2007.

Xenophobic political rhetoric by some GOP candidates probably doesn't attract immigrants either. But maybe that's their point.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.