Since Donald Trump’s victory in the last presidential election, the Latino community has been extremely concerned about whether he will keep the promises he made during his campaign about deporting thousands of Latino immigrants. There is widespread worry about how the worldwide economy might be affected, with stock markets and currencies reacting to the uncertainty.
One of the most disturbing issues is the proposal that remittances from Latinos to family members in their home countries be blocked in order to force Mexico to contribute to or finance the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico. According to Banxico, the amount of money that is transferred each day is enormous. During the first 9 months of 2016, more than 20 billion dollars were transferred from the United States to Mexico; before the end of the year this figure is expected to rise to 30 billion. The amount of transferred money has such an economic impact that it provides great leverage for the United States to be able to force Mexico to contribute the funds needed to pay for the border wall, according to a statement by the Trump campaign several weeks ago.
One recommendation financial experts are making to the Latino community is that Latinos protect their money by opening bank accounts. In the last few weeks, immigrants facing the possibility of deportation have been sending debit cards to their families in their countries of origin so that they can withdraw cash without having to depend on a money transfer service (like Western Union or Money Gram). The Mexican consulate has also recommended that their fellow countrymen open a bank account as soon as possible, using their consulate ID cards if they don’t have documents, and that they protect their savings if they already have a bank account. Banks do not ask about migratory status in order to open an account.
“Today more than ever it is necessary to have a bank account, because through the bank, money can be transferred to family members in Mexico,” says Carlos García de Alba, Mexican consul in Los Angeles. He asks the Latino community to remain calm about the migratory situation facing many undocumented people in the U.S. and advises that they not speculate about what will happen but maintain their composure and not panic.
However, it is impossible for those in the Latino community who send money to their families every week not to worry. In a few weeks the president elect will take office and it is easy to speculate or imagine all types of possibilities, like an increase in the cost of money transfers or high taxes, the businesses that do transfers closing, or many other measures that could possibly be implemented. Meanwhile we continue to hope for the best.
The blocking of remittances would be a serious problem for many Latin-American countries, but especially for Mexico; in 2016 transfers are becoming the principal source of income in Mexico because of the continued fall in petroleum prices and the devaluation of the Mexican currency.
Mexico has also been preparing for the possible measures, recently announcing a system for transfers that would protect them from being confiscated. This system is being set up by the Comisión Nacional de Ahorro para el Retiro (Consar—National Commission for Retirement Savings). All Mexican migrants can open an account by telephone, whether or not they have contributed to IMSS or ISSSTE, with their CURP and a photograph.
Various measures have also been announced to protect immigrants in the United States. The Secretary of Foreign Relations in Mexico is encouraging Mexicans living in the U.S. to be in possession of their personal documents, and an increasing number of people are making appointments to get their Consular ID cards (matrícula consular), passports, and birth certificates, in order to avoid encounters or situations which could result in legal difficulties.
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