Remittances to Mexico Under Threat By Trump

(ESPAÑOL) During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would stop allowing wire transfers of money out of the United States from Mexican nationals unless Mexico agreed to fund a border wall. Migrants in the United States are expected to have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, according to BBVA Bancomer, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.

Remittances jumped nearly 25 percent to almost $2.4 billion in November from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase for any month since March 2006, Mexican central bank data released on Monday showed.

In recent months, Trump has not elaborated on his threat to block money transfers, and a 10-point immigration plan on his transition website makes no mention of the subject. But the possibility is affecting migrants’ remittance decisions.

Remittances have become a huge prop for the Mexican economy, compared to the $18.5 billion in revenue from oil exports in 2015 or nearly $340 billion in manufactured goods, according to the national statistics agency.

In 2015, the area around Ixmiquilpan, home to about 94,000 people, received about $100 million in remittances from abroad, according to data from Mexico’s central bank, more than 10 times the municipal government’s annual budget.

Maria de la Luz Pioquinto, an immigrant from Ixmiquilpan who runs a money transfer business in Clearwater, said her Mexican customers doubled their average transfers right after the Nov. 8 election but are now waiting to see what happens.

“They are worried about still having work, and they are worried about providing for their families back home,” she said.

Michael Clemens, who studies remittances and migration at the Center for Global Development, says that “for countless towns like Ixmiquilpan, remittances are an economic lifeline.” The money sent back usually gets reinvested locally, he said, “in better schooling for kids, better care for the elderly, and better housing.”

Blocking the funds, he said, would mean “that more people close to the edge fall over the edge.”