2007 October 31 Wednesday
Immigrant Remittance Growth To Mexico Stagnates

Those illegal immigrants we subsidize with health care and education send a lot of money home.

But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent.

That quadrupling speaks volumes about Clinton and Bush Administration laxness toward illegal immigration.

Tougher border and interior enforcement of immigration laws has helped stop the remittance growth. But the downturn in the housing market has thrown a lot of illegals out of work too.

Migrants and migration experts say a flagging American economy and an enforcement campaign against illegal workers in the United States have persuaded some migrants not to try to cross the border illegally to look for work. Others have decided to return to Mexico. And many of those who are staying in the United States are sending less money home.

Remittances seem like a good way to measure immigration law enforcement. If the influx of illegals reverses we should see a big downturn in remittances. The fact that remittances have only stopped growing means that the immigration law enforcement improvements haven't gone far enough.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 October 31 08:11 PM  Immigration Economics

Kenelm Digby said at November 1, 2007 3:57 AM:

Just how much of a drain do these remmitances contribute to the overall US trade deficit?
Are they bigger than dollars spent on importing actual physical commodities and other goods?

Gary said at November 1, 2007 8:00 AM:

I agree, remittances are a great yardstick for estimating the number of illegals. The growth in remittances cannot be reasonably attributed to the illegals becoming upwardly mobile and having more disposable income, since the pool of unskilled, illegal labor is continually refreshed, which keeps wages flat. So the increase is almost certain to be caused by more illegals, each sending the same average amount of money home.

Supposing that the "average" illegal has been sending $1000 home each year, that would equate to 6.6 million illegals here at the end of Clinton's term. $20 billion plus in remittances therefore means 20 million illegals or thereabouts.

That said, I am a capitalist, and would not support efforts to impose a tax on remittances, because that would open a pandora's box, inviting all sorts of tampering with the tax code. We would have the worst of all possible worlds - in addition to the taxes we have already, basically a free-for-all would ensue with attempts to impose taxes on both income and consumption, and maybe even a value-added tax on top of that.

Luke Lea said at November 1, 2007 12:07 PM:

I'd say it speaks more of Bush's failure than Clinton's. From 2000 to 2007? Come on!

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