Mexicans in the U.S. sent $2.4 billion to Mexico in November, when Donald Trump won the presidential election, marking the biggest increase of remittances in a decade, Reuters reported Monday.
Remittances to Mexico in November 2016 increased 24 percent from the same month last year, the fastest rate of increase since March 2006, according to data from Mexico’s Central Bank. The number of individual transfers also increased by 8.8 percent, from 77 million between January and November in 2015 to 83 million transfers in the same period in 2016.
The Mexican economy increasingly relies on money sent by immigrants living and working in the U.S., so much so that remittances bring more money into Mexico than crude oil exports.
Trump floated a tax on remittances, or block them entirely, to fund construction of a wall on America’s southern border. To tax remittances, the U.S. would have to be prepared to impound international wire transfers, a move that Mexican officials have declared a violation of rights.
“The remittances are the property of the people that make them, and they have every right to be able to carry out international transfers,” Agustín Carstens, governor of the Central Bank, said in April. “So it would be a serious violation of the property rights of our fellow citizens abroad, and this measure would be completely unjust.”
Carstens will not be in a position to fight a block on remittances, as he will be stepping aside as head of the Central Bank in July.
Mexico is prepared to use all possible legal means to lobby U.S. Congress in order to prevent a block on migrants sending money out of the U.S. “They wouldn’t be retaliatory measures, they would be legal responses,” Humberto Roque Villanueva, the deputy interior minister for migration, said of the effort in an interview with Reuters in November. “We’ll be ready for all the craziness.”
One reason for the increase in remittances is the weak value of the peso, which dropped 10 percent immediately after Trump’s election. As the peso declines compared to the dollar, it takes more dollars to buy the same amount of Mexican currency.
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