1. Almost one Mexican in five receives remittances from relatives working in the United States.
2. These payments help feed, house, and educate at least a quarter of the 100 million people in Mexico.
3. The total sent amounts to about $14.5 billion for this year.
4. Some 450,000 Mexicans entered the United States illegally last year.
The New York Times notes:
Most of the money is spent on food, clothing and housing. But Mr. Suro said a growing portion was invested in small business or helped to pay for high school and college educations.
Across much of central Mexico, where men and women have migrated to the United States for so many decades that crossing the border has become more a rite of passage than an escape from poverty, remittances exceed state public works budgets and pay to build roads, schools, water systems and baseball stadiums.
In recent years the United States and Mexico carried out reforms aimed at making it easier and more affordable for migrants to transfer money home. Companies like Western Union cut the fees they charged for wire transfers, halving the cost of transferring money, and American banks have begun allowing illegal immigrants to open accounts so relatives at home can withdraw funds from automatic teller machines.
Bravo, I say. I have spent a good deal of time in rural Mexico and I can attest that these funds make an enormous difference in the lives of millions. By the way, Daniel Drezner offers insightful commentary on my earlier post on remittances.