Latino migrants in the U.S. sent home an estimated $53.8 billion to Latin America and Mexico, a decline from last year because less money was sent home by Mexicans, according to a report released Friday.
Mexicans sent home about $22 billion this year, down from the $23 billion sent in 2012, the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project reported Friday. The money sent to Mexico is about 40 percent of all money sent home, known as remittances, to Latin America by migrants.
“Overall Spanish-speaking Latin American remittances are down from where they were in the recession, that’s mainly because Mexico, that’s such a big country, has seen a big decline in remittances,” D’Vera Cohn, co-author of the report, told NBC Latino. “The Spanish-speaking Latin America as a group has recovered.”
Cohn said that although every country has different trends, the decline in Mexico can be attributed to a crash in the housing market and immigration-related reasons, including Mexicans who move back voluntarily or have been deported.
“Immigration from Mexico is way down from what it had been a few years ago. The Mexican-born population is lower and there are fewer people to send remittances to Mexico,” Cohn said. “But we have not seen a decline in immigration from the rest of Latin America, Central America and South America.”
The majority of the other Latin American countries, excluding Mexico, have recovered from the low numbers of remittances during the U.S recession. For 2013, it is estimated that $31.8 billion was sent home to these Latin American countries.
For Quilmer Remirez, an immigrant and construction worker, sending half of his paycheck to Honduras has been a regular routine since he arrived to the U.S. five years ago.
“When things get rough here I have to send less. But they don’t ask, they know that I have bills. I want to be able to cover costs here and I want them to cover the costs there too,” Remirez said.
With his remittances, his mother and siblings are able to pay rent, buy food and clothing.
“I’m very happy to help my family,” he said. “It makes you feel fortunate because you can help.”
The study showed that post recession, seven countries _ Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru _ have higher remittances.
“Most other countries are doing better than they were during the recession in terms of remittances,” Cohn said. “However there are still some in addition to Mexico that have not recovered.”
The U.S. is the largest source of remittances worldwide and accounts for 78 percent of the remittances sent to Latin America, according to the report.
Remittances are a larger source of foreign aid to Latin America than official foreign aid.
“It’s for the benefit of my family,” Remirez said. “When I send them money they are happy and most of all, they are thankful.”