Memo From Middle America (Formerly Known As Memo From Mexico) | Remittances Down—Time To Increase The Pressure

Each year, Mexicans in the U.S., both legal and illegal, send billions of dollars back to Mexico in remittances. Year after year, these remittances have increased and increased. In 1999 it was estimated at less than $6 billion, but by 2006 it had reached $25.5 billion.

But—for now at least—remittances have dropped.

Mexico`s central bank, the Banco de México announced this past January that, during calendar year 2008, remittances to Mexico had decreased from $26.076 billion in 2007 to $25.144 billion in 2008. That`s a drop of nearly $1 billion dollars (to be precise, $932 million) in a year.

The Banco de México, governed since 1998 by the highly-competent Guillermo Ortiz, traces the movement of remittances by means of money orders, electronic transfers, cash and payments in kind. The bank`s website contains very detailed breakdowns of these remittances. (That of course includes remittances from illegal aliens—those people supposedly living “in the shadows”).

In the same document, the Banco attributes the drop in remittances to the U.S. recession and U.S. immigration controls, both on the border and internally.

This announcement was in January. According to all reports, thus far, the remittance haul of 2009 is still lower than the previous year.

During the five months from January to May of 2009, remittances were down 11.2 percent from the same five-month period in 2008.

Projections for entire calendar year 2009 put the total remittance haul at the $21-23 billion range.

The bottom line: remittances have dropped—and may be down for some time.

Obviously, this is having a great effect on Mexico. After all, remittances are the second-highest source of legal income in Mexico—higher than tourism, manufacturing or agriculture.

On July 10th, 2009 , USA Today ran a report by Chris Hawley entitled With USA in a Recession, Rural Mexico Feels the Pain.

(Hmm. When was the last time you saw a Main Stream Media headline decrying the pain caused to Americans by illegal immigration?)

Anyway, Hawley explained the situation in Mexico thusly

“Across Mexico, desperation is increasing among the millions of families who depend on money sent home by relatives in the United States. Those money transfers suffered an unprecedented drop in May, falling 20%—to $1.9 billion—compared to the previous year, according to the Bank of Mexico. That`s because the recession has left many migrants unable to find jobs in the USA, especially in construction. The consequences have been particularly devastating in rural towns such as Pacula [a town discussed in the article] known as pueblos fantasmas—or “ghost towns”—because so many men have left to work in the United States, often illegally.” (Links added).

As I have discussed before, (see here and here ) mass emigration has wreaked havoc on family life in Mexico, depopulating rural villages as the men go north to work in the U.S., causing all sorts of social problems.

Back to the Hawley article:

“The hard times in Pacula [a Mexican town described in the article] testify to a dramatic reversal of fortune for the estimated 12 million migrants who, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, are living illegally in the United States. Before last year, the amount of money they sent to Mexico (where 56% of illegal migrants in the USA come from, Pew says) had grown non-stop for several decades as the migrant community in the United States became larger and more prosperous. The recession has changed everything…”

And, what about the border?

The Border Patrol says the number of illegal migrants apprehended last year fell to the lowest level since 1973 as the down economy and tighter border controls discouraged many from entering the USA.”

The article focuses on two rural towns, north of Mexico City, affected by the remittance decrease.

One is Pacula, in which 80% of the households are remittance-dependent for basic necessities. Most of the residents are women, children and old people. Most of the town`s men are in Alabama, Georgia and other southern states. The town is isolated and doesn`t even have telephone lines. It grew to depend on remittances but now since the remittances have dropped, the town has been hit hard. Sales have been halved in the general store, and attendance at the town`s patron saint festival (June 24th) were down by two-thirds. [VDARE.com note: the patron saint of Pacula is St. John The Baptist. We only mention it because USA Today forgot to. All part of the VDARE.com service!]

The other town, El Epazota, has 180 residents, but now half of them (and most of the men) are in Oklahoma and Missouri.

These are only two towns, but the story is repeated throughout the country. Approximately 8% of Mexico`s population is, to some degree, dependent upon remittances. That means that a drop in remittances is going to be tough on a lot of Mexicans in the short run. This is lamentable, but it was never a good idea to allow this kind of dependence to begin with.

As part of the article, USA Today`s Hawley interviewed Jack Martin of FAIR, who made a good point:

“Immigration-control advocates such as Jack Martin of the Federation for American Immigration Reform say the decline in remittances may result in more money staying in the USA to generate tax revenue and jobs. He says the trend might also force Mexico to create jobs at home and tackle income inequality, describing the cash transfers as a ´crutch that the Mexican government has leaned on for quite a while.´”

Right on, Jack! It`s what I`ve been saying all along. See my previous article How to Help Mexico—Close the Border!  

If remittances continue to drop, that puts more pressure on the Mexican government, which is good.

I`m sorry it had to work out this way. But that`s what happens when the U.S. and Mexican governments allow mass emigration to replace economic development.

Mexico`s leaders might consider reforming their inefficient state oil monopoly PEMEX. But that`s up to them.

And get this: a few years ago, Guillermo Ortiz, aforementioned governor of the Banco de México, actually said something similar, that tougher U.S. immigration enforcement would help Mexico in the long run. [Mexican bank chief talks immigration |  In Dallas, he says stricter U.S. policies could help his country, By Dianne Solis, Dallas Morning News, September 27, 2006]

By the way, Mexico is not the only country in the region that has come to depend upon remittances. In fact, there are other countries with an even higher dependence. Remittances only contribute 2% of Mexico`s total economic output. For the Central American country of El Salvador, it`s 18.3%. For neighboring Honduras it`s 21.6%. For Haiti, it`s a staggering 30%.

This has raised the question of how the stability of the region will be affected. In the same article I`ve been quoting, Hawley reports that:

Philip Williams, [email him] the director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida, says a sustained, severe drop in remittances could have unpredictable consequences in the region—including ´ social conflict ´ in less stable countries, a larger number of farmers turning to drug cultivation, or the continued ascendancy of populist, leftist governments.”

This guy is saying that a decrease in remittances can cause social conflict, drug cultivation, and the establishment of leftist governments in Latin America? Like those things aren`t happening anyway!

As for the U.S.-Mexico border, in March the LA Times ran an article entitled Border Arrests Drop [By Richard Marosi, March 8th, 2009], reporting that:

“Arrests of illegal immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border have fallen to levels unseen since the 1970s, as the ailing U.S. economy and enhanced enforcement appear to be deterring people from embarking on treks north.”

It`s hard to get a handle on all the seemingly-contradictory things that are going on simultaneously.

On July 22nd, 2009, the Pew Hispanic Center report released a report entitled Mexican Immigrants: How Many Come? How Many Leave? , by Jeffrey S. Passel and D´Vera Cohn.

This document concludes that immigration from Mexico has decreased:

“Immigration from Mexico to the U.S., especially unauthorized immigration, began to drop off in mid-2006, and that pattern has continued into 2009…”

On the other hand, the report indicated no great net exodus of Mexicans from the U.S.: “Recent data from U.S. and Mexican population surveys provide no evidence that an increased number of immigrants have left the United States to return to Mexico since 2006.”

It appears then that a lot of Mexicans are staying here despite the economic downturn (after all, there`s an economic downturn in Mexico also).

And that leads us to another bizarre development. It`s even been reported that some Mexicans in the U.S. are now receiving remittances from their families in Mexico.

Yeah, you read that right. Here`s an excerpt from the article More Mexicans Are Sending Money to Help Out Relatives in the U.S. [AlterNet, July 23rd, 2009]:

“For decades, money sent home by Mexicans working in the United States has been a key pillar of the Mexican economy. Now, scattered reports are surfacing of Mexicans sending money to support relatives in the United States hard hit by the economic crisis north of the border…According to Chihuahua state tourism department official Demetrio Sotomayor Cuellar, a 21 percent decrease over last year in the number of `paisanos` [Mexican immigrants traveling home for visits] crossing the Chihuahua border from June 26 to July 14 led officials to investigate the visitor drop. In the course of the probe, Sotomayor said, officials ran across unusual reports in the hands of Mexico`s Interior Ministry. Much to their surprise, officials learned that some Mexicans were financially sustaining their migrant relatives in the United States. `This was something that was never seen before and now it is,` Sotomayor said. `Family members who are employed in Mexico are sending money to those relatives who are unemployed in the United States.` “

A recent blog entry by Brenda Walker about Mendota, California quotes an article that reports the same phenomenon.

Is this bizarre, or what?

What are we to make of all these developments?

Well, for one thing, it can give us hope.

On the one hand, mass immigration, multiculturalism, Affirmative Action, globalism and the looming demographic transformation threaten to drastically change our nation into an unrecognizable entity. That`s why we`re constantly brainwashed to believe that these developments are inevitable.

But they are not. And there is still time to turn things around.

In fact, several factors are now working in our favor. Our economic downturn is bad, but, to employ a Chaucerian phrase, we can “make a virtue of necessity” by using it to fight amnesty.

After all, according to recent predictions emanating from the Fed they are talking about a “jobless recovery” (what kind of a recovery is that?), five years until the economy is healthy. [Fed Sees Heightened Joblessness Drawing Out Recovery, By Neil Irwin, Washington Post, July 15, 2009]. And we already have 15 million unemployed. Under such conditions, how can anybody talk about bringing in more workers?

Not only that, but a poor economy that isn`t creating new jobs can help to reduce the appeal of immigrating, keeping more people in their home countries.

As for Mexico, as I pointed out in a recent article [Mexico`s Demographic Transition—America`s Opportunity] the Mexican birth rate in Mexico has plummeted, meaning that it may be easier in the future for more Mexicans to find jobs in Mexico.

So if remittances to Mexico are going down, that`s a good thing in the long run (for both countries).

Of course, a lot of political conflict still awaits us. Getting back our nation doesn`t just depend on economic and demographic factors.

What`s needed more than anything is for the members of America`s white majority to get their heads out of the sand and understand what`s really going on.

Due to the economic downturn and the arrogance of the Obama administration, more Americans may be waking up.

What we have to do to regain our country is not easy, but it`s not really that complicated. We need to

Easy? No. But not impossible.

Not if we all do our share and wake up our fellow Americans.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) recently moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here and his website is here.