Underreported: Mexican Remittances in a Bad Economy

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Remittances (money sent home from immigrants) are Mexico's second-largest source of foreign income after oil and they dropped significantly in 2008 for the first time on record. The decline could signal trouble for the Mexican economy, but it also has real impacts on Mexican’s living in the United States. Sam Quinones is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the author of Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration. Dr. Robert Smith is associate professor of immigration studies at Baruch College and at CUNY. He is the author of Mexican New York.


Sam Quinones and Dr. Robert Smith

Comments [8]

memoirs of a documented alien

I entered the U.S. legally. It took me 15 years to earn my citizenship in this country. It took me seven years to get my work permit ( imagine not working for a professional). It took me ten years to see my mother who was finally granted visa to see me here ( I cannot travel to my native country by political reasons). And I don't know how many years it will take for me to see my siblings. I was patiently waiting to get to my freedom in the right/legal way. Why do undocumented aliens want to get everything for granted? from free education to health care? All that time, I have never been on the welfare of this society respecting hard-working Americans.

Mar. 20 2009 01:23 AM
Juan José Gutiérrez from Marina, CA

Consider Daphne Eviatar's statement (The Washington Independent 3/10/09 12:12 PM): "Legal, tax-paying hard-working immigrants drive up demands for homes, cars, goods and services — and ultimately, that’s what we desperately need right now. The destitution or deportation of 11 million people within our borders, leading to more foreclosures and business failures, isn’t going to help anyone."

Mar. 11 2009 02:58 PM

Sold out by greedy self serving politicions. Over run and overwhelmed. Everybody's talking and the politicions don't listen, they have an agenda and have already made up thier minds. America has changed.

Mar. 04 2009 03:55 AM

Overpopulation and limited resources are another concern. Even the USA has limited resources. If it were not for the illegals, the population would be declining which would be a good thing for sustainability. I second the motion to rid the country of illegals.

Mar. 03 2009 10:02 PM
Tired of ILLEGALS from SUNBELT - swimming in ILLEGALS

I don't feel enriched. I feel abused.

ILLEGALS are here because somebody else broke the law with them. We have LEGAL immigration. They should go back home and come back in the right way.

We could stop ILLEGAL immigration but at this point both parties are in a race to whore this nation by granting amnesty to see who will get the 20-40 MILLION votes. Easily enough to put one of the parties so far out in front of the other one for a long time. To hell with the fact that the American public wants ILLEGALS to go home – the two parties know what we need better than we do.

It has been too easy to see the benefit ILLEGALS have provided in cheaper wages. Never mind what they have done to emergency rooms in hospitals, the damage to our educational system, increased crime rates, higher insurance rates…

La Raza Unida used to openly claim they were going to reclaim parts of the US by any method possible - including sheer force of numbers. So here we are.

The first day of the televised street marches 2-3 years ago in protest of enforcing immigration laws showed a lot of Mexican flags being carried in the mobs. Quickly realizing that this was causing a backlash among LEGAL American residents, the mob participants scrambled and found American flags.

The (mostly) left press refuses to call ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS what they are and prefers to use 'UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS'. NPR is squarely in this group and if you have any doubt, listen to Latino USA. They all but encourage illegal immigration. No need for that though, the Mexican govt has published instructions on their website to help ILLEGALS jump the fence. It gets a currency flow back into Mexico and removes a lot of malcontents from Mexican elections.

If you want to protest MY COUNTRY go back to YOUR COUNTRY. You haven't earned the right to protest here. Lou Dobbs and I are not against foreigners or immigration. We're against CRIMINALS and that is what ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are.

Feb. 27 2009 02:03 AM
Juan José Gutiérrez from Marina, CA

As a permanent resident in California, born and raised in Mexico, I want to first start by thanking this Great Nation for the open doors. I believe that I have been enriched by and have enriched those that I live and work with, in this beautiful Central Coast of California.

I would like to ask NABNYC to stop for a moment and think hard about the implications of the proposition to stop illegal migration. Implications are many and complex. Not to get carried away in detail let me propose that the issue is not whether to stop it, but how to do it.

If you are talking about stopping it because it is draining the economy, the proposal arrives a little bit too late in history: Migrants in Mexico are driving American cars, buying American food and live -here and south of the border- in the economic zone that generates jobs in the US. The time of contained national realities is long gone. Even if you wanted to do so, even if that was possible, elbowing your neighbors out will hurt your own rib-cage just as much. In all honesty the old Pre-NAFTA World of Lou Dobbs is no longer here.

If you are talking about regulating it I am all for it both as a resident of California and as a Mexican, and I hope we can work together so that it happens soon. The rural communities in Mexico have been structurally dispossessed of their brightest minds, of their hard working hands, and of its younger workers. A rational, reasonable and intelligent regulation will be of great benefit to both nations.

America is a nation of "can-do":if stopping illegal migration was an option, it would have already happened, perhaps long time ago.

Feb. 26 2009 02:24 PM
Phoebe from NJ

Thank you, NABNYC. This aspect does not get any coverage in the MSM, including WNYC. Likewise, the effect of handing out many, many H1B visas for jobs that qualified Americans can carry out has resulted in depression of wages for the "educationally skilled" professions of technology and science.

There is no denying the impact of immigration and immigrants on the fabric of ths USA, but this is being used by Capital to diminish the lot of American workers.

Feb. 26 2009 01:55 PM
NABNYC from Southern California

In 1980, skilled American building trades workers earned $18 - $25/hour in the major metropolitan areas. By 1995, many of them had been thrown out of work, replaced by illegal immigrants from Mexico who were paid $8/hour. The savings in labor costs went into the pockets of the real estate developers. This has had a devastating effect on all Americans (mostly men) who used to earn a good living in construction.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the Mexicans send home $25 billion/year to help their families. Who are poor. If the jobs in the U.S. had gone to American workers, they would have spent their money here in the U.S., spending inside their own communities. 13 years (1995 - 2008) at $25 billion/year = $325 billion that should have been spent inside the U.S., building up our own economy, and instead was sent to Mexico.

Anybody who wants to help the Mexicans should reject the nonsensical "free-slave" arguments of the "free-trade" folks. You are not helping people by allowing them to come to the U.S. and be slaves.

This is just one more element that has contributed to the crushing of American working people. There are a broad variety of jobs that are now done by illegal immigrants but used to be done by Americans who have been fired by business owners who prefer to use cheaper, or even slave labor.

We do need to stop illegal immigration and stop anyone from taking American jobs -- whether it's slave labor being imported, or American businesses setting up shop in third world countries. It needs to be stopped. If the government won't do it, then people need to get educated and do it themselves through consumer action, or sit-ins, or educational projects such as the one to stop Bush's plan to bring Mexican truckers into the U.S. to bust the Teamsters union.

This isn't an anti-Mexican issue. It is a pro-American-worker issue. We cannot give away our neighbors' jobs under the guise of being "liberal."

Feb. 26 2009 12:57 PM

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