WASHINGTON—Migrants in the United States sent more than $28 billion dollars back to Mexico in 2016, according to a report by the Pew Research Center, using data from the World Bank.
Mexico receives the most remittances from the United States, with China coming in second at almost $15.5 billion, and India and the Philippines at about $10.5 billion apiece.
Personal remittances are defined by the World Bank as “the sum of personal transfers and compensation of employees.”
In total, more than $138 billion of remittances flowed out of the United States in 2016.
Despite a recent decline, “remittances sent by migrants are still about double what they were a decade ago, before the sharp decline in the global economy during the late 2000s,” the Pew report said.
The outgoing outweighs the incoming by a staggering amount. Mexico, again at the top, is responsible for only $1.7 billion coming into the United States. Canada is second.
Remittances are one of the highest sources of foreign income in Mexico, along with oil and manufacturing exports.
It is impossible to tell whether those sending the money to Mexico are legal or illegal immigrants in the United States, or even if they are U.S. citizens.
Last year, President Donald Trump threatened to tax remittances going to Mexico to help pay for a wall along the southwest border.
In March 2017, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) introduced a bill that would impose a 2 percent fee on remittances sent to Mexico and 41 other countries. “In order to jumpstart the funding of the wall,” he said in a statement at the time.
The bill has nine Republican co-sponsors, but has not been brought to the House floor for a vote.
Charging a two percent fee on the more than $138 billion in remittances that left the United States in 2016 would have generated $2.76 billion.
Currently, Oklahoma is the only state with a wire-transfer fee, set at 1 percent.
The state’s most recent annual tax report (for fiscal year 2016-2017) showed that the wire transfer fee brought in $12,873,864, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies.
“While both business interests and the government of Mexico … objected to the bill, it was adopted by the state legislature, and is no longer the subject of controversy,” according to David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.